BACKGROUND: Early desensitization of FcεRI-bearing mast cells and basophils has been demonstrated in allergen-specific immunotherapy and drug desensitization. However, its mechanisms have not been elucidated in detail. Histamine is one of the main mediators released on FcεRI triggering of basophils and mast cells, and it exerts its functions through histamine receptors (HRs).
OBJECTIVES: We sought to investigate HR expression on basophils of patients undergoing venom immunotherapy (VIT) and its effect on allergen, IgE, and FcεRI cross-linking-mediated basophil function and mediator release.
METHODS: Basophils were purified from the peripheral blood of patients undergoing VIT and control subjects and were studied functionally by using real-time PCR, flow cytometry and ELISA assays.
RESULTS: Rapid upregulation of H2R within the first 6 hours of the build-up phase of VIT was observed. H2R strongly suppressed FcεRI-induced activation and mediator release of basophils, including histamine and sulfidoleukotrienes, as well as cytokine production in vitro.
CONCLUSION: Immunosilencing of FcεRI-activated basophils by means of selective suppression mediated by H2R might be highly relevant for the very early induction of allergen tolerance and the so-called desensitization effect of VIT.