Objective: Among many immunotherapeutic approaches, oral immunotherapy (OIT) is thought to be an effective route for desensitization against a variety of allergens. However, there is little evidence that OIT is effective for airway allergic diseases such as pollen allergy. Thus, in the present study, we assessed the safety, efficacy and immune response of OIT using the Cry j1-galactomannan conjugate for Japanese cedar pollen allergy. Methods: An open trial was conducted over a period of 4 months. The OIT group comprised of 23 subjects. Treatment was initiated 1 month before the estimated pollen season and continued for 1 month. The control group (the pharmacological treatment group without OIT) comprised of 11 subjects. The symptoms and medication score, levels of allergen-specific serum antibodies, cellular components of lymphocytes and cytokine production from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were evaluated throughout the pollen season. Results: The participants receiving OIT treatment showed significant improvements in total symptom scores and symptom-medication scores during the pollen season compared with the control group. The levels of allergen-specific serum IgG4 and IL-10 production in PBMCs were significantly increased in the OIT group compared with that in the control group. Importantly, no severe adverse effects were observed in the participants receiving OIT treatment. Conclusion: Short-term OIT using the Cry j1-galactomannan conjugate is effective, relatively safe and induces tolerant immune responses such as increased allergen-specific serum IgG4 and IL-10 production in PBMCs. These results suggest that OIT using allergen-galactomannan conjugates may provide a rapid, effective, and safe immunotherapy regimen for cedar pollen allergy.
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