In the temperate climate zone of the Northern hemisphere birch pollen allergy represents the main cause of winter/spring pollinosis. More than 95% of birch pollen-allergic patients show sensitization to the major birch pollen allergen Bet v 1 of the white birch Betula verrucosa. Reactions to Bet v 1 affect over 100 million allergic patients worldwide.
The allergen-specific immunotherapy (AIT) still represents the only effective and long-lasting treatment of allergic diseases due to its potential to modulate the humoral immune response towards allergens by the induction of “blocking antibodies”. However, at present no predictive serologic or cellular marker exists which can be used to determine the clinical efficacy of this treatment and to monitor antibody levels is insufficient.
By fully characterizing the antibody profiles during birch pollen AIT and studying whether therapy-induced blocking antibodies can also inhibit IgE binding to Bet v 1-related food allergens we aim to find such predictive markers and to investigate whether pollen-specific immunotherapy can be used to treat associated food allergies.
Bet v 1 and the related food allergens from hazelnut Cor a 1 and apple Mal d 1 are produced as recombinants, purified and characterized physico-chemically. For studying the humoral immune response towards these allergens different assays are performed including nasal provocation tests, ELISA, ImmunoCAP, immunoblots, facilitated antigen binding and rat basophil leukemia cell degranulation assays.