Oral administration of large doses of protein antigen generally induces a state of systemic unresponsiveness currently termed mucosally induced tolerance. In this study, we used human milk protein (HMP) without casein as a multi-protein antigen for the study of mucosally induced tolerance. The HMP utilized in this study mainly contained secretory (S) IgA, lactoferrin (Lf) and alpha-lactalbumin (Lact). When mice were given 1 or 25 mg of HMP orally 3 times or 25 mg orally four consecutive weeks prior to systemic immunization, antigen-specific serum IgG responses to HMP were induced by subsequent parenteral immunization with 100 microg of HMP. Analysis of IgG subclasses revealed that IgG1 followed by IgG2b accounted for the IgG responses noted. When both HMP and ovalbumin (OVA) were fed to mice, tolerance developed to OVA but not to HMP. To further investigate the nature of immune responses seen following oral gavage of HMP, we examined responses to individual protein of HMP. Brisk serum IgG1 and IgG2b responses to both S-IgA and Lf were induced by oral followed by systemic immunization with HMP. Analysis of splenic CD4+ T cells from mice given oral HMP revealed production of Th2- but not Th1-type cytokines. These results show that oral administration of HMP preferentially induces exclusive Th2-type immune responses, which may prevent the development of HMP (S-IgA and Lf)-specific mucosally induced tolerance.
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Subjects: Immunology ; Biological Sciences