Aggregation makes a protein allergenic at the challenge phase of basophil-mediated allergy in mice

Toshihisa Nagao, Yoshinori Yamanishi, Kensuke Miyake, Mio Teranishi, Saori Takahashi, Soichiro Yoshikawa, Yohei Kawano, Hajime Karasuyama

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A hapten is a small molecule that is not immunogenic on its own but can stimulate the production of antibodies at the sensitization phase when conjugated to carrier proteins. The hapten then reacts specifically with the antibodies generated against it to elicit an immune or allergic response at the challenge phase. Here, we compared various carrier proteins conjugated with the same hapten in their ability to induce hapten-specific IgE-mediated allergic responses in vitro and in vivo, and characterized the nature of carrier proteins that determines the magnitude of response at the challenge phase of allergic reactions. Hapten 2,4,6-trinitrophenol (TNP)-conjugated ovalbumin (TNP-OVA) and bovine serum albumin (TNP-BSA) elicited TNP-specific, mast cell-dependent, immediate-type allergic reactions at a comparable level in mice that had been passively sensitized with TNP-specific IgE. In contrast, TNP-OVA but not TNP-BSA efficiently induced a basophil-dependent, IgE-mediated chronic allergic inflammation (IgE-CAI), even though both proteins could stimulate basophils in vitro at a comparable level. By comparing different carrier proteins and structurally modifying them, we found that the formation of large aggregates is crucial for TNP-conjugated carrier proteins to efficiently elicit IgE-CAI, regardless of the type of protein. Thus, the aggregation status of carrier proteins appears to determine the magnitude of allergic response at the challenge phase of hapten-specific IgE-CAI. Our findings suggest that the allergenicity of substances is a matter of importance not only at the sensitization but also at the challenge phase in a certain type of allergy including a basophil-mediated allergic inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-49
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 25 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • IgE
  • basophil
  • carrier protein
  • hapten
  • protein aggregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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