Early decrease in basophil sensitivity to Ara h 2 precedes sustained unresponsiveness after peanut oral immunotherapy

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2019 Nov;144(5):1310-1319.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2019.07.028. Epub 2019 Aug 1.


Background: Only some patients with peanut allergy undergoing oral immunotherapy (OIT) achieve sustained clinical response. Basophil activation could provide a functional surrogate of efficacy.

Objective: We hypothesized that changes in basophil sensitivity and area under the curve (AUC) to the immunodominant allergen Ara h 2 correlate with clinical responses to OIT.

Methods: Children with peanut allergy aged 7 to 13 years were enrolled in a single-center, open-label peanut OIT trial. Levels of specific immunoglobulins were measured throughout OIT. Peripheral blood from multiple time points was stimulated in vitro with peanut allergens for flow cytometric assessment of the percentage of CD63hi activated basophils.

Results: Twenty-two of 30 subjects were successfully treated with OIT; after avoidance, 9 achieved sustained unresponsiveness (SU), and 13 had transient desensitization (TD). Basophil sensitivity, measured by using the dose that induces 50% of the maximal basophil response, to Ara h 2 stimulation decreased from baseline in subjects with SU (after OIT, P = .0041; after avoidance, P = .0011). At 3 months of OIT, basophil sensitivity in subjects with SU decreased from baseline compared with that in subjects with TD (median, 18-fold vs 3-fold; P = .01), with a receiver operating characteristic of 0.84 and optimal fold change of 4.9. Basophil AUC to Ara h 2 was suppressed after OIT equally in subjects with SU and those with TD (P = .4). After avoidance, basophil AUC rebounded in subjects with TD but not those with SU (P < .001). Passively sensitized basophils suppressed with postavoidance SU plasma had a lower AUC than TD plasma (6.4% vs 38.9%, P = .03).

Conclusions: Early decreases in basophil sensitivity to Ara h 2 correlate with SU. Basophil AUC rebounds after avoidance in subjects with TD. Therefore, different aspects of basophil activation might be useful for monitoring of OIT efficacy.

Keywords: Ara h 2; Basophil activation; IgE; IgG(4); food allergy; immunoglobulin; immunotherapy; oral immunotherapy; peanut allergy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 2S Albumins, Plant / immunology*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Antigens, Plant / immunology*
  • Arachis / immunology
  • Basophil Degranulation Test / methods*
  • Basophils / immunology*
  • Child
  • Desensitization, Immunologic / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Male
  • Peanut Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Peanut Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Peanut Hypersensitivity / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • 2S Albumins, Plant
  • Antigens, Plant
  • Ara h 2 allergen, Arachis hypogaea
  • Immunoglobulin E