BACKGROUND - Atopic diseases, resulting from hypersensitivity to a wide variety of allergens, affect 10-20% of the population. Immunotherapy is an effective treatment for atopic diseases, but its mechanisms are not fully understood.
OBJECTIVE - We studied gene expression profiles in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and examined whether the individuals with allergic rhinitis (AR) have a unique gene expression profile and how the immunotherapy affect the gene expression profiles.
METHODS - We used cDNA microarray and 'expression analysis systemic explorer' to examine the gene expression profiles in the PBMC of atopic subjects and other groups.
RESULTS - We identified a highly conserved gene expression profile in atopic subjects that permitted their accurate segregation from control or autoimmune subjects. A major feature of this profile was the under-expression of a variety of genes that encode proteins required for apoptosis and over-expression of genes that encode proteins critical for stress responses and signal transduction. We also identified 563 genes that can segregate individuals with AR based upon receipt of immunotherapy.
CONCLUSION - There is a highly conserved gene expression profile in the PBMC of individuals with AR. This profile can be used to identify individuals with AR and to evaluate responses to immunotherapy. Quantitative endpoints, such as gene expression, may assist clinicians faced with clinical decisions in the diagnosis of patients and the evaluation of response to therapy. The knowledge of the possible genetic basis for immunotherapy efficacy may also lead to novel therapeutic approaches for atopic diseases.