Pollen derived low molecular compounds enhance the human allergen specific immune response in vivo.
Gilles-Stein S., Beck I., Chaker A., Bas M., McIntyre M., Cifuentes L., Petersen A., Gutermuth J., Schmidt-Weber C., Behrendt H., Traidl-Hoffmann C.
BACKGROUND: Besides allergens, pollen release bioactive, low molecular weight compounds that modulate and stimulate allergic reactions. Clinical relevance of these substances has not been investigated to date. OBJECTIVE: To elucidate the effect of a non-allergenic, low molecular weight factors from aqueous birch pollen extracts (Bet-APE < 3 kDa) on the human allergic immune response in vivo. METHODS: Birch and grass pollen allergic individuals underwent skin prick testing with allergen alone, allergen plus Bet-APE < 3 kDa, or allergen plus pre-identified candidate substances from low molecular pollen fraction. Nasal allergen challenges were performed in non-atopic and pollen allergic individuals using a 3 day repeated threshold challenge battery. Subjects were either exposed to allergen alone or to allergen plus Bet-APE< 3 kDa. Local cytokine levels, nasal secretion weights, nasal congestion and symptom scores were determined. RESULTS: Skin prick test reactions to pollen elicited larger weals when allergens were tested together with the low molecular weight compounds from pollen. Similar results were obtained with candidate pollen-associated lipid mediators. In nasal lining fluids of allergic patients challenged with allergen plus Bet-APE < 3 kDa, IL-8 and IgE was significantly increased as compared to allergen-only challenged patients. These patients also produced increased amounts of total nasal secretion and reported more severe rhinorrhea than the allergen-only challenged group. CONCLUSIONS: Low molecular compounds from pollen enhance the allergen specific immune response in the skin and nose. They are therefore of potential clinical relevance in allergic patients.