Immunologic Research

, Volume 39, Issue 1–3, pp 279–286 | Cite as

Immunotherapy of asthma using CpG oligodeoxynucleotides



Asthma and other atopic disorders have increased in prevalence and severity over the past three decades. Reduced risk of atopic disease associated with early life exposure to infections and microbes has raised the possibility that pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) may confer protection against allergic disorders, a concept that has been named the “Hygiene Hypothesis”. This relationship is most likely mediated through the induction of specific patterns of anti-atopic immune responses that follow engagement of innate immune mechanisms. Bacterial DNA is one such immunostimulatory microbe-associated ligand, whose properties can be mimicked by oligodeoxynucleotides (ODN) containing unmethylated cytosine-guanine dinucleotides in specific base sequences (CpG motifs), motifs characteristic of prokaryotic DNA that have been suppressed in eukaryotic DNA. Based initially on observations that CpG ODN induced Th1-type patterns of immune responses, we proposed that CpG ODN might represent a novel therapeutic strategy for the prevention and treatment of atopic disorders. Current understanding suggests multiple mechanisms of action of CpG ODN, but our initial hypothesis has been supported by extensive studies demonstrating, in animal models, efficacy in both incipient and established atopic asthma. These preclinical studies are now being translated into clinical trials exploring this new approach to immunotherapy for atopic disease.


Asthma Hygiene Hypothesis Immunotherapy CpG oligodeoxynucleotides T-regulatory cells 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medicine, Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, Graduate Program in Immunology, C33GH UIHCUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

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