Peptide Immunotherapy for Allergic Diseases Using a Rice-based Edible Vaccine

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rice plantationsPurpose of review: Plant pollens are the most common cause of seasonal allergic disease. The number of patients undergoing treatment for allergies to the pollen of Japanese cedar (major antigens: Cry j 1 and Cry j 2) has increased steadily each year. Integration of an effective, safe and inexpensive clinical program would be greatly improved by addressing deficiencies in systemically delivered immunotherapy.

Recent findings: We have demonstrated that feeding mice transgenic rice seeds accumulating the T-cell epitope peptides of Cry j 1 and Cry j 2 before systemic challenge with total protein of cedar pollen inhibits the development of allergen-specific IgE, IgG and CD4+ T-cell proliferative responses. The levels of allergen-specific CD4+ T-cell-derived allergy-associated T-helper 2 cytokine of IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13 and histamine release in serum were also significantly decreased. Moreover, clinical symptoms were inhibited in an experimental sneezing-mouse model.

Summary: Plant-based edible vaccine has been shown to be effective for treatment of Japanese cedar pollinosis. When rice seeds containing T-cell epitopes derived from cedar pollen allergens were orally administered to mice, immune tolerance leading to reduction of allergen-specific IgE, T-cell proliferative reaction and histamine could be induced, resulting in suppression of allergic-specific symptoms such as sneezing.

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