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Expression of IL-9 and allergy. Effects of some organic pollutants on the immune response with special concern for allergy

Thursday, 23 November, 2006 - 18:00
Campus: Brussels Health Campus
Faculty: Medicine and Pharmacy
auditorium 4
Sabrina Devos
phd defence

Allergy is a common problem and for many
years, the prevalence of allergy has even been
increasing. Allergy is characterized by an
imbalance between Th1 and Th2 cytokines,
resulting in elevated levels of antibody of the IgE
class against the sensitizing allergen. The onset
of allergy is determined by an interaction of
genetic and environmental factors. In the first
part of her thesis work, Sabrina Devos has
investigated the role of the recently characterized
cytokine interleukin (IL)-9. She was able to
demonstrate that IL-9 production in vitro is an
excellent marker for allergy in adults. Therefore,
it was proposed that a blockade of IL-9 signaling
might have therapeutic applications in allergic
conditions such as asthma.

In the second part of her work, Sabrina Devos
tested the hypothesis that several herbicides and
persistent organic pollutants had
immunomodulatory properties, which may have
deleterious effects. The tested pollutants
exhibited very limited activity on cytokine
production. However, the herbicide atrazine
strongly impaired the production of interferon-γ,
tumour necrosis factor-α, IL-5 and IL-6 (but not
of IL-8) at micromolar concentrations and below.
A search for a signaling pathway of atrazine,
concentrating on nuclear receptors, was so far

Based on literature data and own results, it is
concluded that white blood cells are the most
sensitive target of atrazine in mammalian cells
and that further reduction in the use of atrazine
is desirable.