Based on mouse models, researchers from Japan and the US believe that administration of anti-IgE immunosuppressives in pregnant women may confer a lifetime of protection from allergies in their children.
The conclusion is based on the premise that when infants in the first three or four months of their lives are exposed to allergens, their immune systems may create immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, which then attack the allergens and trigger reactions causing allergic sensitization.
“Researchers agree that fighting them within that period is critical,” said Hirohisa Saito, deputy director at the National Center for Child Health and Development in Japan of IgE antibodies. “Once they appear in our immune system, it’s impossible to cure allergies.”
Researchers from Japan’s National Center for Child Health and Development, Tokyo’s Jikei University School of Medicine and the California-based La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, injected pregnant mice with an anti-IgE agent, thus killing the mast cells responsible for creating the chemicals that interact with allergens and cause allergic reactions. The shots prevented IgE antibodies from appearing in the offspring for nine weeks, a period comparable to five months in humans.
“We discovered that preventing infant mice from creating antibodies would effectively diminish the risk of allergies in their adult lives,” said Saito.
“Such medicine has already been used to ease symptoms of asthma in pregnant women and has been proven safe for the fetus. Injecting it into the mother could have the same effect as injecting it directly into the child.”
The study refers to omalizumab (Xolair) as an immunosuppressive for humans that works similarly to the agent used in the mouse study. Omalizumab has been given to women suffering with severe asthma during pregnancy.
The study concludes that further study of anti-IgE immunosuppressives administered during pregnancy is warranted.
- IgE-class-specific immunosuppression in offspring by administration of anti-IgE to pregnant mice – Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
- Japanese and U.S. researchers say allergy shots for pregnant women may protect babies for life – The Japan Times