Chapter 4. Mechanisms of allergen immunotherapy

M. Akdis, C. Schmidt-Weber, M. Jutel, C. A. Akdis, Kurt Blaser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The molecular and cellular mechanisms of allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT) have recently been investigated. It appears that, similar to a normal immune response to allergen, the generation of allergen-specific, regulatory/suppressor T cells plays a key role in succcessful SIT. T cells before and after SIT and exposure to high allergen doses, showed distinct cytokine profiles. The frequency of interleukin (IL)-10-producing T cells revealed that allergen-specific regulatory/suppressor T cells represent a dominant allergen-specific T cell subset in healthy individuals and succesful SIT. IL-10 and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β induce tolerance in T cells and regulate the specific immunity. Our results demonstrate that IL-10 and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β secreting regulatory/suppressor T cells control the healthy allergen response in cooperation with other suppressor molecules, and depletion of this T cell subset or blocking of expressed suppressor molecules, enhanced the specific response. Furthermore, IL-10 is able to generate noninflammatory IgG4 antibodies and TGF-β is a switch and promoting factor for IgA. Both cytokines suppress IgE formation. Thus, induction of specific unresponsiveness (tolerance) and development of allergen-specific regulatory CD4+, CD25+ T cells secreting IL-10 and/or TGF-β and the recovery of effector T cells by cytokines from the tissue microenvironment, represent key steps in SIT of allergy and natural immunity to allergens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-60
Number of pages5
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy Reviews
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Allergen
  • IL-10
  • Immunotherapy
  • Normal immunity
  • T reg
  • TGF-β


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