venom allergy is one of the most severe allergic diseases, with a considerable prevalence of anaphylactic reaction, making it potentially lethal. In this review, we provide an overview of the current knowledge and recent findings in understanding induced immune mechanisms during different phases of venom immunotherapy. We focus on protection mechanisms that occur early, during the build-up phase, and on the immune tolerance, which occurs later, during and after Hymenoptera
venom immunotherapy. The short-term protection seems to be established by the early desensitization of mast cells and basophils, which plays a crucial role in preventing anaphylaxis during the build-up phase of treatment. The early generation of blocking IgG antibodies seems to be one of the main reasons for the lower activation of effector cells. Long-term tolerance is reached after at least three years of venom immunotherapy. A decrease in basophil responsiveness correlates with tolerated sting challenge. Furthermore, the persistent decline in IgE levels and, by monitoring the cytokine profiles, a shift from a Th2 to Th1 immune response, can be observed. In addition, the generation of regulatory T and B cells has proven to be essential for inducing allergen tolerance. Most studies on the mechanisms and effectiveness data have been obtained during venom immunotherapy (VIT). Despite the high success rate of VIT, allergen tolerance may not persist for a prolonged time. There is not much known about immune mechanisms that assure long-term tolerance post-therapy.
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