Background: In allergic asthma, CD4+ T lymphocytes are a fundamental component of local chronic inflammation. Their cytokine profile is oriented toward a TH2 phenotype, characterized by production of IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, and IL-13. Egress of T cells from blood to airways after allergen challenge has been described.
Objective: We have studied a cohort of six patients with asthma who had multiple allergies to investigate how exposure to allergen affects the proliferation of peripheral CD4+ T lymphocytes with different allergen specificities and lymphokine profiles.
Methods: For each patient, CD4+ T-cell lines were generated by in vitro stimulation with sensitizing and with nonsensitizing allergens, and IL-4 and interferon-gamma production by these lines was assessed. Proliferation of peripheral blood CD4+ T lymphocytes in response to the same allergens was measured before and 24 hours after inhalation challenge with a sensitizing allergen.
Results: We found that each single sensitizing allergen can deplete peripheral blood of TH2-type CD4+ T lymphocytes specific for all sensitizing allergens, but not of TH1-type CD4+ T lymphocytes.
Conclusions: Our results suggest the existence of mechanisms capable of sorting disease-associated antigen specificities together with defined lymphokine patterns into T lymphocytes that can migrate to target organs, in allergic asthma.