DENVER-Rush immunotherapy targeting a single allergen makes distinct changes in T cells and stops allergic reactions, National Jewish Medical and Research Center physicians found, according to the April issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
"This study showed for the first time the T cell reaction to immunotherapy is specific," said Erwin Gelfand, M.D., head of the Department of Pediatrics at National Jewish and principal investigator of the study. "If you give too many antigens in desensitization, the immune system may not be able to distinguish between them. But attacking one trigger or a few triggers at a time can prevent the allergic reaction."
Rush immunotherapy consists of a number of injections given over a short time to desensitize a person to certain allergens, such as dust mites, cat dander or different types of plants.
Ten boys and girls, allergic to house dust mites and cat dander, were given rush immunotherapy for house dust mites only. When treatment ended, the children were desensitized to dust mites but not to cat dander, which showed that T cells can respond selectively to rush immunotherapy. In rush immunotherapy, T cells produce more interferon gamma, an element that lowers allergic responses, and shut off production of pro-allergic cytokines, which can cause wheezing, runny nose, sneezing and watery eyes.
"After rush immunotherapy you are more tolerant to an allergen you would have reacted to without desensitization," Dr. Gelfand said.
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