Allergen-specific subcutaneous immunotherapy in allergic asthma: immunologic mechanisms and improvement



Yousef A. Taher 1, Paul A.J. Henricks 2, Antoon J.M. van Oosterhout 3

1-Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Al-Fateh Medical University, Tripoli, Libya; 2-Department of Pharmacology and Pathophysiology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands; 3-Laboratory of Allergology and Pulmonary Diseases, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen University, Groningen, The Netherlands

Libyan J Med 2010, 5: 5303 – DOI: 10.3402/ljm.v5i0.5303


Allergic asthma is a disease characterized by persistent allergen-driven airway inflammation, remodeling, and airway hyperresponsiveness. CD4+ T-cells, especially T-helper type 2 cells, play a critical role in orchestrating the disease process through the release of the cytokines IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13. Allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT) is currently the only treatment with a long-term effect via modifying the natural course of allergy by interfering with the underlying immunological mechanisms. However, although SIT is effective in allergic rhinitis and insect venom allergy, in allergic asthma it seldom results in complete alleviation of the symptoms. Improvement of SIT is needed to enhance its efficacy in asthmatic patients. Herein, the immunoregulatory mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of SIT are discussed with the ultimate aim to improve its treatment efficacy.

Keywords: allergic asthma; immunotherapy; dendritic cell; regulatory T cells; Th2 lymphocytes; hyperresponsiveness; eosinophilia; IgE; IL-10