Background: The interaction of allergens and allergen-specific IgE initiates the allergic cascade after crosslinking of receptors on effector cells. Antibodies of other isotypes may modulate such a reaction. Receptor crosslinking requires binding of antibodies to multiple epitopes on the allergen. Limited information is available on the complexity of the epitope structure of most allergens. Objectives: We sought to allow description of the complexity of IgE, IgG4, and IgG epitope recognition at a global, allergome-wide level during allergen-specific immunotherapy (AIT). Methods: We generated an allergome-wide microarray comprising 731 allergens in the form of more than 172,000 overlapping 16-mer peptides. Allergen recognition by IgE, IgG4, and IgG was examined in serum samples collected from subjects undergoing AIT against pollen allergy. Results: Extensive induction of linear peptide-specific Phl p 1– and Bet v 1–specific humoral immunity was demonstrated in subjects undergoing a 3-year-long AIT against grass and birch pollen allergy, respectively. Epitope profiles differed between subjects but were largely established already after 1 year of AIT, suggesting that dominant allergen-specific antibody clones remained as important contributors to humoral immunity following their initial establishment during the early phase of AIT. Complex, subject-specific patterns of allergen isoform and group cross-reactivities in the repertoires were observed, patterns that may indicate different levels of protection against different allergen sources. Conclusions: The study highlights the complexity and subject-specific nature of allergen epitopes recognized following AIT. We envisage that epitope deconvolution will be an important aspect of future efforts to describe and analyze the outcomes of AIT in a personalized manner.
- Immunologi inom det medicinska området