Background: Allergy to German cockroach (CR) is common in urban environments and is an important allergen in children with asthma. Objective: We hypothesize that the evolution of allergic sensitization and clinical disease is associated with distinct patterns of allergen-specific T cell reactivity. To test this hypothesis, a subset of high-risk inner-city children participating in the URECA (Urban Environment and Childhood Asthma) birth cohort were selected to evaluate CR-specific T cell reactivity from three distinct groups based on acquisition of aeroallergen sensitivity from ages 2 to 10: low atopy with minimal to no sensitivity (n = 26), early-onset allergic sensitization (n = 25) and late-onset allergic sensitization (n = 25). Methods: Using pools of previously identified CR-derived T cell epitopes, we characterized the allergen-specific T cell response in these 76 subjects from blood samples obtained at age 10. CR-specific production of IL-5, IFNγ and IL-10 was measured by ELISPOT following two-week in vitro culture with CR extract. Results: T cell responses were significantly higher in the early-onset atopy group compared to low atopy (P = 0.01), and a trend for higher cytokine production in the late onset compared to the low atopy cohort was also observed (P = 0.06). T cell responses were similar between early- and late-onset cohorts. Furthermore, a comparison of T cell reactivity between asthmatic and non-asthmatic individuals revealed significantly higher cytokine production in asthmatics compared to non-asthmatics (P = 0.02) within both the CR-allergic and non-allergic cohorts. Conclusions and clinical relevance: In conclusion, the present study reports that higher T cell reactivity is associated with allergen sensitization and asthma. Interestingly, no significant difference in T cell reactivity was observed in allergic children with early-onset versus late-onset atopy.
- T cells
- allergens and epitopes