The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) restriction of the IgE response to different allergens in humans has been a subject of numerous published studies. However, the role and contribution of specific HLA class II molecules in the pathogenesis of allergic airway inflammation are unknown and difficult to assess. HLA-DQ6 and HLA-DQ8 transgenic mice lacking endogenous mouse class II gene expression were actively immunized and later challenged intranasally with short ragweed (SRW) allergenic extract. The HLA-DQ transgenic mice developed pulmonary eosinophilia and lung tissue damage. We also found an increase in total protein (TP) level and IL-5 production in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and an increase in SRW-specific Th2-type immunoglobulins (IgG1, IgG2b) and total serum IgE levels. Under similar treatment, DQ-negative full-sib control mice were normal. The allergic response could be significantly inhibited or abrogated in HLA-DQ mice by systemic treatment with anti-DQ mAb. The in vivo responses of HLA-DQ6 and HLA-DQ8 mice showed differences in terms of levels of eosinophilia, BAL protein, IL-5 concentration, and lung hyperreactivity to inhaled methacholine. These findings demonstrate the crucial role for specific HLA-DQ molecules in SRW-specific CD4+ T-cell activation and resulting recruitment of eosinophils into the airways.
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