Conjugation of immunostimulatory DNA to the short ragweed allergen Amb a 1 enhances its immunogenicity and reduces its allergenicity

Helen Tighe, Kenji Takabayashi, David Schwartz, Gary Van Nest, Stephen Tuck, Joseph J. Eiden, Anne Kagey-Sobotka, Peter S. Creticos, Lawrence M. Lichtenstein, Hans L. Spiegelberg, Eyal Raz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

352 Scopus citations


Background: Allergen immunotherapy is inconvenient and associated with the risk of anaphylaxis. Efforts to improve the safety of immunotherapy by means of chemical modification of allergens have not been successful because it greatly reduced their antigenicity. Recently, immunostimulatory DNA sequences (ISS or CpG motifs) have been shown to act as strong T(H)1 response-inducing adjuvants. Objective: We sought to determine whether conjugation of ISS to the major short ragweed allergen Arab a I results in enhanced immunotherapeutic potential in mice and decreased allergenicity in human subjects. Methods: A 22-mer ISS oligodeoxynucleotide (ISS-ODN) was coupled to Arab a 1 and used for immunization of mice, rabbits, and monkeys. Results: In mice the Amb a 1-ISS conjugate induced a T(H)1 response (IFN-γ secretion), whereas Amb a 1 induced a T(H)2 response (IL-5 secretion). The T(H)1 response was not observed with an Amb a 1-non-ISS conjugate. Coinjection of Amb a 1 with ISS-ODN was much less effective in inducing a T(H)1 response. In mice primed for a T(H)2 response, injection with Amb a 1- ISS conjugate induced a de novo T(H)1 response and suppressed IgE antibody formation after challenge with Amb a 1. Amb a 1-ISS conjugate induced high- titer anti-Amb a 1 IgG antibodies in rabbits and cynomolgus monkeys, whereas Amb a 1 alone or Amb a 1 coinjected with ISS-ODN did not induce a detectable response. Amb a 1-ISS conjugate was less allergenic than Amb a 1 alone, as shown by a 30-fold lower histamine release from human basophils of patients with ragweed allergy, whereas mixing ISS-ODN with Amb a 1 did not reduce histamine release. Conclusion: Amb a 1-ISS conjugate has an enhanced T(H)1- biased immunogenicity and reduced allergenicity. It may offer a more effective and safer approach for allergen immunotherapy than currently available methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-134
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Jul 2000


  • Allergen-ISS conjugate
  • Basophil histamine release
  • CpG motifs
  • Immunostimulatory DNA sequence
  • Immunotherapy
  • Ragweed allergy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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