Imperial College London

Role of T follicular cells in seasonal allergic rhinitis and following allergen-specific immunotherapy

Principal Investigator(s): Dr Mohamed Shamji
Type of Study:
Recruiting? yes

Funding Body:
Start Date: 10-Aug-2016
Projected End Date:



Circulating T follicular helper (TFH) and T follicular regulatory (TFR) cells are subsets of CD4+ T cells with modulatory properties. TFH cells play a role in maintaining formation and differentiation of B cell follicles within the germinal centre and are also responsible for plasma cell differentiation and class switch recombination. Regulatory T cells have been shown to play a crucial role in regulating germinal centre response. TFR cells shares similar properties with TFH cells with regulatory properties and are thought to play a role in the immune tolerance induction following allergen-specific immunotherapy. This involves the administration of high dose allergen either subcutaneously or sublingually and has been shown to confer benefit to patients by inducing long-term clinical and immunological tolerance. The overall aim of this study is to evaluate the role of circulating interleukin (IL)-21 producing TFH cells in the pathophysiology of grass pollen-induced allergic rhinitis. Furthermore, we will assess the effect of grass pollen subcutaneous and sublingual immunotherapy on IL-21+ TFH cells in peripheral blood.

Lay Summary

Seasonal allergic rhinitis is an inflammatory disease of the mucosal lining and is caused by allergens from tree, grass or pollen and it affects 20% of the population in Western Europe. Most patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis responds to medications, however a small proportion of patients do not. Allergen-specific immunotherapy has been shown benefit these patients by inducing long-term tolerance for several years upon termination of treatment, but the mechanism is still unclear. T helper cells play an important part in the pathophysiology of allergy. We aim to investigate T cell subsets namely T follicular helper (TFH), T follicular regulatory (TFR) cells, and TFH cells that produce a protein called interleukin (IL)-21 that are thought to play a part in the tolerance induction in allergic individuals following immunotherapy.

Summary of Findings

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