Non-allergenic antigen in allergic sensitization: responses to the mite ferritin heavy chain antigen by allergic and non-allergic subjects

M.J. Epton, W. Smith, B.J. Hales, L. Hazell, Philip Thompson, Wayne Thomas

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30 Citations (Web of Science)


Background The majority of house dust mite proteins are non-allergenic. There is, however, no information on the type of immune responses produced to these proteins and if the responses are affected by allergic sensitization.Objective To identify and produce a non-allergenic antigen of the house dust mite and compare antibody and T cell responses with the responses to allergens in sensitized and non-sensitized individuals.Results Ferritin heavy chain was cloned from a cDNA library as a candidate non-allergen of the house dust mite. It bound IgG but not IgE in the sera of allergic and non-allergic subjects and induced high T cell proliferative responses that correlated highly with the responses to the major allergen Der p 2. The cytokine response to the non-allergen was characterized by the release of high levels of both Th1 and Th2 cytokines from the PBMC of both allergic and non-allergic subjects. In contrast, the response to Der p 2 showed the expected high level of Th2 cytokine release from the PBMC of allergic subjects, while the Th2 cytokine production from PBMC of non-allergic subjects was low and even lower than that induced by ferritin heavy chain. The levels of IFN-gamma release were similar for all groups. Der p 2 induced significantly more IL-10 than ferritin in the non-allergic group.Conclusion The T cell responses to a non-allergenic protein of the house dust mite were high and strongly correlated with the response to the major allergen. The non-allergenic protein induced high levels of Th1 and Th2 cytokine in both allergic and non-allergic subjects, while the allergen induced high levels of Th2 cytokine in allergic subjects and low levels in non-allergic subjects. The responses to the allergen were thus independently up- and down-regulated with no evidence of bystander regulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1341-1347
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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