Oral tolerance in humans: T cell but not B cell tolerance after antigen feeding

Academic Article


  • The purpose of this study was to investigate whether oral tolerance, defined as Ag-specific immunologic unresponsiveness after Ag feeding, could be induced in humans after prolonged Ag ingestion. Eight adult volunteers ingested a total dose of 0.5 g of keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) followed by subcutaneous immunization with KLH. Eight controls received only the subcutaneous immunization. In the group fed KLH, there was a significant reduction in KLH-specific T cell proliferation (p = 0.04) and delayed skin test responses (p = 0.07) to KLH. KLH ingestion alone did not induce significant levels of Abs in either serum or secretions. However, after the subsequent subcutaneous immunization, the number of circulating IgG and IgM anti-KLH-producing cells, the titers of serum IgG, IgA, and IgM anti-KLH Abs, and the titers of IgA anti-KLH Abs in saliva and intestinal secretions were significantly greater in the KLH-fed group than in the nonfed group. We conclude that KLH feeding induced systemic T cell tolerance, but B cell priming, at both systemic and mucosal sites. These studies support the concept of using Ag feeding as a treatment for certain immune-mediated diseases.
  • Published In

    Author List

  • Husby S; Mestecky J; Moldoveanu Z; Holland S; Elson CO
  • Start Page

  • 4663
  • End Page

  • 4670
  • Volume

  • 152
  • Issue

  • 9