Rush immunotherapy in an experimental model of feline allergic asthma

Carol R. Reinero, Jenni R. Byerly, Roy D. Berghaus, Londa J. Berghaus, Edward S Schelegle, Dallas M. Hyde, Laurel J Gershwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Specific allergen immunotherapy represents the only curative treatment of allergy. No studies have evaluated its efficacy in feline allergic asthma. We hypothesized that an abbreviated course of immunotherapy (rush immunotherapy, RIT) would blunt eosinophilic airways inflammation in experimental feline asthma induced with Bermuda grass allergen (BGA). The 6-month study included asthmatic-RIT treated cats; asthmatic-no RIT treated cats; and non-asthmatic cats. RIT involved increasing parenteral doses (20-200 ug) of BGA over 2 days. Numbers of eosinophils in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), serum and BALF immunoglobulins, lymphocyte blastogenesis assays, and cytokines in blood and BALF were evaluated. BALF eosinophils decreased (P = 0.048) only in asthmatic-RIT treated cats (baseline 1.1 × 106; Month 6, 2.4 × 105). Serum BGA-specific IgG was higher (P < 0.001) at all time points after baseline within the asthmatic-RIT group, and was higher (P < 0.001) than asthmatic-no RIT cats at Months 1 and 3. No differences (P = 0.133) in BGA-specific IgE levels over time were noted among asthmatic-RIT cats, but this group had lower IgE levels (P < 0.001) levels than asthmatic no-RIT cats at Months 3 and 6. Differences in BGA-specific IgA levels over time and between the two groups did not reach the traditional level of significance. The mean BGA stimulation index in the asthmatic-RIT cats was biologically insignificant at 6 months, reflecting BGA-specific lymphocyte hypoproliferation. Preliminary results of cytokine profiles were not significantly different; however, BAL cytokine profiles favoring a Th2 response prior to RIT shifted to increased IFN-g and IL-10 thereafter. RIT dampens eosinophilic airways inflammation in cats with experimental asthma. The mechanism of RIT may involve changes in allergen-specific immunoglobulins, induction of hyporesponsive lymphocytes, or alteration of cytokine profiles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-153
Number of pages13
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 15 2006


  • Animal model
  • Eosinophilic inflammation
  • Hyposensitization
  • IgE
  • Immunomodulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Immunology
  • veterinary(all)


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