Insect bite hypersensitivity (IBH) is an IgE-mediated dermatitis of horses caused by bites of Culicoides insects, not indigenous to Iceland. Horses born in Iceland and exported to Culicoides-rich areas are frequently affected with IBH.
The aims of the study were to compare immunization with recombinant allergens using the adjuvant aluminum hydroxide (Alum) alone or combined with monophosphoryl lipid A (MPLA) for development of a preventive immunization against IBH.
Twelve healthy Icelandic horses were vaccinated intralymphatically three times with 10 μg each of four recombinant Culicoides nubeculosus allergens in Alum or in Alum/MPLA.
Injection with allergens in both Alum and Alum/MPLA resulted in significant increase in specific IgG subclasses and IgA against all r-allergens with no significant differences between the adjuvant groups. The induced antibodies from both groups could block binding of allergen specific IgE from IBH affected horses to a similar extent. No IgE-mediated reactions were induced. Allergen-stimulated PBMC from Alum/MPLA horses but not from Alum only horses produced significantly more IFNγ and IL-10 than PBMC from non-vaccinated control horses.
In conclusion, intralymphatic administration of small amounts of pure allergens in Alum/MPLA induces high IgG antibody levels and Th1/Treg immune response and is a promising approach for immunoprophylaxis and immunotherapy against IBH.