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 1 , 2 , John McLaren Howard 3 ,  and Jean A. Monro 2
  • 1 Department of Medicine, Imperial College, London, UK
  • 2 Breakspear Medical Group, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, UK
  • 3 Acumen, Tiverton, Devon, UK
Basant K. Puri
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Medicine, Imperial College, London, UK
  • Breakspear Medical Group, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, UK
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, John McLaren Howard and Jean A. Monro

Abstract

Background

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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).

Conclusions

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.

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The Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine focuses on evidence concerning the efficacy and safety of complementary and alternative medical (CAM) whole systems, practices, interventions and natural health products, including herbal medicines.

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