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Two years of treatment with the recombinant grass pollen allergy vaccine BM32 induces a continuously increasing allergen-specific IgG4 response

Eckl-Dorna J, Weber M, Stanek V, Linhart B, Ristl R, Waltl EE, Villazala-Merino S, Hummel A, Focke-Tejkl M, Froeschel R, Neubauer A, Henning R, Perkmann T, Valenta R, Niederberger V. EBioMedicine. 2019 Dec;50:421-432. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2019.11.006. Epub 2019 Nov 28



BM32, a grass pollen allergy vaccine containing four recombinant fusion proteins consisting of hepatitis B-derived PreS and hypoallergenic peptides from the major timothy grass pollen allergens adsorbed on aluminium hydroxide has been shown to be safe and to improve clinical symptoms of grass pollen allergy upon allergen-specific immunotherapy (AIT). We have investigated the immune responses in patients from a two years double-blind, placebo-controlled AIT field trial with BM32.



Blood samples from patients treated with BM32 (n = 27) or placebo (Aluminium hydroxide) (n = 13) were obtained to study the effects of vaccination and natural allergen exposure on allergen-specific antibody, T cell and cytokine responses. Allergen-specific IgE, IgG, IgG1 and IgG4 levels were determined by ImmunoCAP and ELISA, respectively. Allergen-specific lymphocyte proliferation by 3H thymidine incorporation and multiple cytokine responses with a human 17-plex cytokine assay were studied in cultured peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs).



Two years AIT comprising two courses of 3 pre-seasonal injections of BM32 and a single booster after the first pollen season induced a continuously increasing (year 2 > year 1) allergen-specific IgG4 response without boosting allergen-specific IgE responses. Specific IgG4 responses were accompanied by low stimulation of allergen-specific PBMC responses. Increases of allergen-specific pro-inflammatory cytokine responses were absent. The rise of allergen-specific IgE induced by seasonal grass pollen exposure was partially blunted in BM32-treated patients.



AIT with BM32 is characterised by the induction of a non-inflammatory, continuously increasing allergen-specific IgG4 response (year 2 > year1) which may explain that clinical efficacy was higher in year 2 than in year 1. The good safety profile of BM32 may be explained by lack of IgE reactivity and low stimulation of allergen-specific T cell and cytokine responses.


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