Recovery from desensitization of IgE-dependent responses in human lung mast cells

A. Lewis, D. W. MacGlashan, S. K. Suvarna, P. T. Peachell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Clinical desensitization and oral food immunotherapy are therapeutic interventions that allow individuals who react adversely to an allergen (drug or food) to be made tolerant to the allergen. However, tolerance is brief, and allergen hypersensitivity can recur within days following allergen withdrawal. Objective: We hypothesize that the reason these treatments are temporary reflects rapid recovery of mast cells from a desensitized state. We sought to test this. Methods: Desensitization of IgE-mediated histamine release from human lung mast cells was explored by methods that partially replicate the pattern of treatment during clinical desensitization. Specific and non-specific desensitization and changes in surface IgE were examined following desensitization. Recovery from desensitization was also studied. Results: Desensitization of mast cell responses was readily induced with concentrations of antigen or anti-IgE that were suboptimal for secretion. There was little or no non-specific desensitization when lung mast cells were exposed to antigens. There was no loss of cell surface IgE following desensitization. Removing the desensitizing stimulus from the media following desensitization allowed the cells to recover with half-point of recovery of ~1.5 days and complete recovery after 5 days. Both the functional response and histamine content recovered within this time frame. The recovery appeared possible because both antigens and anti-IgE dissociated rapidly from cells after washing to remove excess stimulus. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Human lung mast cells readily recover from a desensitized state following removal of desensitizing antigen. This finding provides a potential explanation for the ephemeral nature of clinical desensitization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1022-1031
Number of pages10
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • IgE
  • anti-IgE
  • antigen
  • desensitization
  • histamine
  • human lung mast cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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