BackgroundTo examine whether whole genome expression profiling could reveal changes in mRNA expression of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from allergic patients undergoing rush immunotherapy (RIT) that might be manifest within the first few months of treatment.
MethodsFor this study, PBMC from three allergic patients undergoing RIT were assessed at four timepoints: prior to RIT, at 1 week and 7 week post-RIT, during build-up and at 4 months, after establishment of a maintenance dose. PBMC mRNA gene expression changes over time were determined by oligonucleotide microarrays using the Illumina Human-6 BeadChip Platform, which simultaneously interrogates expression profiles of > 47,000 transcripts. Differentially expressed genes were identified using well-established statistical analysis for microarrays. In addition, we analyzed peripheral blood basophil high-affinity IgE receptor (Fc epsilon RI) expression and T-regulatory cell frequency as detected by expression of CD3+CD4+CD25bright cells at each timepoint using flow cytometry.
ResultsIn comparing the initial 2 timepoints with the final 2 timepoints and analyzing for genes with ?1.5-fold expression change (p less than or equal to 0.05, BH-FDR), we identified 507 transcripts. At a 2-fold change (p less than or equal to 0.05, BH-FDR), we found 44 transcripts. Of these, 28 were up-regulated and 16 were down-regulated genes. From these datasets, we have identified changes in immunologically relevant genes from both the innate and adaptive response with upregulation of expressed genes for molecules including IL-1?, IL-8, CD40L, BTK and BCL6. At the 4 month timepoint, we noted a downward trend in Fc epsilon RI expression in each of the three patients and increased allergen-specific IgG4 levels. No change was seen in the frequency of peripheral T-regulatory cells expressed over the four timepoints.
ConclusionsWe observed significant changes in gene expression early in peripheral blood samples from allergic patients undergoing RIT. Moreover, serum levels for allergen specific IgG4 also increased over the course of treatment. These studies suggest that RIT induces rapid and dynamic alterations in both innate and adaptive immunity which can be observed in the periphery of allergic patients. These alterations could be directly related to the therapeutic shift in the allergen-specific class of immunoglobulin.