Pollen allergy has a remarkable clinical
impact and there is a body of evidence suggesting that the prevalence of
respiratory allergic reactions induced by pollen has been on the increase in
the past decades. Birch is the major pollen-allergen-producing tree in North and
Central Europe, resulting in birch pollen allergy-associated food allergy is the
most common form of food allergy. Primary inhalant sensitisation to the major
allergen in birch pollen, and subsequent IgE cross-reactivity to homologous
proteins might explain adverse reactions of birch pollen allergic individuals to
many foods. Across Scandinavia, many birch pollen allergy suffers have reported
mitigation of their symptoms after drinking birch sap. However, there is no
scientific evidence supporting the use of birch sap as a treatment of pollen
allergy. We hypothesise that birch sap might contain proteins that are homologous
and immunologically cross-reactive to the major birch pollen allergens and
therefore birch sap could induce tolerance towards birch pollen allergy.
The aim of this project is to examine if birch
sap may induce tolerance to birch pollen and if it can be used as a natural
product for prevention and treatment of birch pollen allergy.
To achieve this objective, we will:
Investigate the protein
composition of birch sap and identify immuno-reactive epitopes. Cross-reactive
proteins in birch pollen will be also detected. In addition, we will evaluate the
effect of long-term conservation methods on protein content and allergenicity.
Proteomic, immunological and in silico analysis
will be performed.
Evaluate the tolerance and
desensitising capacity of birch sap to birch pollen allergy and related food
allergies, as well as perform mechanistic studies. Animal models, that resemble
atopic humans in their predisposition to develop allergic diseases, will be
applied. The following analysis will be implemented: a) IgG and IgE specific
antibody levels and avidity, b) Cross-reactive food IgG and IgE antibodies, c)
Ear swelling test, d) Basophil activation e) Cytokine profiling and f) Homing
of immune cells.