Induction and regulation of allergen-specific IgE


  • P.V. Jeurink
  • H.F.J. Savelkoul


The immune response is characterized by an initial rapid activation of the innate defence system, geared at recognizing common structures shared by many microorganisms. This innate immune response is a prerequisite to mount a highly antigenspecific adaptive immune response consisting of T-cell differentiation into effector subsets and B-cell differentiation into antibody-secreting plasma cells. Commonly, allergy is characterized by dendritic cells presenting allergenic peptides, activated Th2 cells producing signature cytokines like IL-4 and IL-5, and B-cells producing allergen-specific IgE antibodies. Under non-allergic conditions tolerance mechanisms, comprising regulatory T-cell subsets, are suppressing potential immune responses to allergen exposure. The protein structure of many allergens has been resolved and has provided an explanation for the epitope-specific IgE cross-reactivity responsible for the pollen-food syndrome. The knowledge on the protein characteristics of the major food allergens can provide better understanding why certain types of allergic symptoms can develop in particular individuals. Together with information on the genetic basis and the modulatory capacity of the environment, the Allergy Consortium Wageningen sets out to develop preventive measures to reduce allergic sensitization, to give advice to reduce allergen exposure and induce symptom reduction, and to provide clues to the management of an existing allergy.