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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 27, 2017

Desensitization to chemical and food sensitivities by low-dose immunotherapy ascertained by provocation neutralization is associated with reduced influx of calcium ions into lymphocytes

  • Basant K. Puri EMAIL logo , John McLaren Howard and Jean A. Monro



Food and chemical sensitivities have detrimental effects on health and the quality of life. The natural course of such sensitivities can potentially be altered through various types of allergen-specific immunotherapy, including low-dose immunotherapy. The molecular mechanism by which low-dose immunotherapy causes desensitization has not thus far been elucidated. While resting lymphocytes maintain a low cytosolic calcium ion concentration, antigen receptor signaling results in calcium ion influx, predominantly via store-operated calcium channels. We therefore hypothesized that desensitization by low-dose immunotherapy is associated with reduced influx of calcium ions into lymphocytes. The aim of this study was to test this hypothesis.


Intracellular lymphocytic calcium ion concentrations were assayed in a total of 47 patients, following incubation with picogram amounts of the test allergens, using a cell-permeable calcium-sensing ratiometric fluorescent dye and fluorescence spectroscopy, both at baseline and following successful provocation neutralization treatment with low-dose immunotherapy.


Low-dose immunotherapy was associated with a reduction in lymphocytic intracellular calcium ion concentration following treatment of: 23 % for metabisulfite sensitivity (p<0.0004); 12 % for salicylate sensitivity (p<0.01); 23 % for benzoate sensitivity (p<0.01); 30 % for formaldehyde sensitivity (p<0.0001); 16 % for sensitivity to petrol exhaust (p<0.003); 16 % for natural gas sensitivity (p<0.001); 13 % for nickel sensitivity (p<0.05); 30 % for sensitivity to organophosphates (p<0.01); and 24 % for sensitivity to nitrosamines (p<0.05).


Low-dose immunotherapy may affect baseline levels of intracellular calcium in lymphocytes, supporting the premise that allergens affect cell signaling in immune cells and provocation neutralization immunotherapy helps to promote more normal immune cell signaling.

  1. Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: None declared.

  3. Employment or leadership: BKP has no conflict of interest to declare. JMcLH and his wife are Directors of Acumen. JAM is Medical Director of Breakspear Medical, which is a family company.

  4. Honorarium: None declared.

  5. Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.


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Received: 2016-1-23
Accepted: 2017-3-24
Published Online: 2017-4-27
Published in Print: 2017-4-26

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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