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In vitro study of the human immune response to the pollen allergens of Parietaria


The prevalence of allergic diseases (allergic rhinitis/conjunctivitis, allergic bronchial asthma and atopic dermatitis) is high and steadily increasing. In Europe the prevalence of hayfever ranges between 8.4 and 14% in adults. Although it is known that IgE antibody synthesis by B cells and T cell response predominantly of the Th2-type (i.e. producing high levels of IL4 and IL5 and no IFN gamma) characterize the immune response to allergens, the regulatory mechanisms and molecules have not been completely identified. This gap in bais knowledge is a major obstacle towards the development of a rational approach to prevention and therapy. The cure of clinical symptoms and the prevention of allergy is only partially obtained using classical immunotherapy, i.e. hyposensitization with allergenic extracts. The biological basis of the therapeutic action of this as well as of recently proposed forms of therapy (e.g. peptide based) is not known.
It this project we propose an as experimental model an allergy of great epidemiological and clinical relevance. Parietaria, a weed diffused in Southern Europe, causes between 40 and 80% of adult pollinosis. The objective of the study is to dissect the immune response, and to identify some of the mechanisms shifting it towards allergy.
i) The establishment of a new allergen specific experimental model.
ii) The characterization of epitopes of the major allergen for B and T cells represented by synthetic peptides or fusion proteins. These in contrast to epitopes from other allergens (eg based on allergy to mites and gramineae) appear to be highly dominant in human immune response dna represent a unique tool to dissect the regulatory mechanisms shifting towards allergy the immune response and may be the basis for the design of reagents for diagnosis (peptides, fusion proteins carrying B cell epitopes) or for peptide-based innovative therapy (peptides carrying T cell epitopes).
The development of new technologies for sorting or identigying in situ cells according to the expressed products.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Via Guglielmo Marconi 10
80125 Napoli

Participants (2)

Piazza San Marco 4
50121 Firenze
Universität Köln
Albert Magnus Platz 1
50923 Köln