[Truncated abstract] The last few decades have witnessed an increase in the prevalence, morbidity and economic burden associated with asthma and allergic disease. This rising incidence cannot be completely explained by changes in genetic factors or by improvements in diagnostic procedures. Environmental factors, particularly those associated with a westernised lifestyle, are considered to be involved in this increase. In the late 1980’s Strachan was the first to link environmental factors with allergic disease, this theory became to be known as the ‘hygiene hypothesis’. This hypothesis links the “cleaner” more “healthy ” environment we now live in, with an increased risk of developing allergic disease. This effect is highlighted by studies linking farm and animal exposure (rich in microbial compounds) during early life with a decrease in allergic disease. Since then numerous studies have been undertaken to ascertain the factors present in the microbe rich environment, which elicit this protective effect. Many studies have revolved around endotoxin, however microbial components (mainly from Gram-positive bacteria) which signal through Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2), have also shown that they can alter the allergic immune response. In mice models TLR2 has been shown to both exacerbate and inhibit allergic disease. The above research highlights the need for further studies into the effect of TLR2 ligands, and to define the mechanisms by which they exert their effects in human allergic disease. These mechanisms will be relevant to understanding the pathogenesis of allergy, but also might provide novel ways to treat allergy. The aims of the study outlined in this thesis were to determine whether in vitro exposure to TLR2 ligands could modify the established immune response to house dust mite allergen (HDM), and to examine the mechanisms by which this occurs. ... The addition of glucocorticoids to LTA enhanced the ability of this TLR2 ligand to inhibit IL-5 and IL-13 production by HDM-activated blood mononuclear cells. In conclusion, this study shows that TLR2 ligands have the ability to inhibit the Th2 response to mite allergen in previously sensitized individuals by an as yet unknown mechanism. However the findings described herein do provide an impetus for future studies designed to uncover novel mechanisms by which allergic responses can be ameliorated, and may open new treatment modalities.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2007|