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Allergen immunotherapy presents an opportunity to define mechanisms of induction of clinical tolerance in humans. Significant progress has been made in our understanding of changes in T cell responses during immunotherapy, but existing work has largely been based on functional T cell assays. HLA-peptide-tetrameric complexes allow the tracking of antigen-specific T-cell populations based on the presence of specific T-cell receptors and when combined with functional assays allow a closer assessment of the potential roles of T-cell anergy and clonotype evolution. We sought to develop tools to facilitate tracking of antigen-specific T-cell populations during wasp-venom immunotherapy in people with wasp-venom allergy. We first defined dominant immunogenic regions within Ves v 5, a constituent of wasp venom that is known to represent a target antigen for T-cells. We next identified HLA-DRB1*1501 restricted epitopes and used HLA class II tetrameric complexes alongside cytokine responses to Ves v 5 to track T-cell responses during immunotherapy. In contrast to previous reports, we show that there was a significant initial induction of IL-4 producing antigen-specific T-cells within the first 3-5 weeks of immunotherapy which was followed by reduction of circulating effector antigen-specific T-cells despite escalation of wasp-venom dosage. However, there was sustained induction of IL-10-producing and FOXP3 positive antigen-specific T cells. We observed that these IL-10 producing cells could share a common precursor with IL-4-producing T cells specific for the same epitope. Clinical tolerance induction in humans is associated with dynamic changes in frequencies of antigenspecific T-cells, with a marked loss of IL-4-producing T-cells and the acquisition of IL-10-producing and FOXP3-positive antigen-specific CD4+ T-cells that can derive from a common shared precursor to pre-treatment effector T-cells. The development of new approaches to track antigen specific T-cell responses during immunotherapy can provide novel insights into mechanisms of tolerance induction in humans and identify new potential treatment targets. © 2010 Aslam et al.

Original publication

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0011028

Type

Journal article

Journal

PLoS ONE

Publication Date

2010

Volume

5