The effects of nebulized IFN-gamma on primary and secondary IgE production and development of airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR) were investigated. BALB/c mice received primary exposure to aerosolized OVA daily for 10 days and developed anti-OVA IgE responses, immediate cutaneous reactivity to OVA, and altered airway function when assayed on day 12. After secondary exposure to OVA challenges on days 30 and 31, these mice developed an amplified IgE response, heightened cutaneous reactivity to OVA and AHR when measured on day 37. Administration of IFN-gamma for 13 days, beginning 3 days prior to and during primary OVA sensitization, resulted in a decrease in anti-OVA IgE, increases in serum anti-OVA IgG2a levels, a decrease in cutaneous reactivity to OVA, and normal airway function when assessed on day 12 after primary sensitization. This treatment also prevented the development of secondary anti-OVA IgE responses and altered airway responsiveness but did not induce a secondary rise in anti-OVA IgG2a in the serum measured on day 37. Treatment with IFN-gamma on days 26 to 30, well after primary responses were established but just prior to secondary OVA challenge, abolished the development of secondary anti-OVA IgE responses, resulted in an increase in anti-OVA IgG2a in the serum, and prevented the development of AHR. In vitro, CD4+ T cells obtained from OVA-sensitized mice treated with either "early" or "late" IFN-gamma inhibited IgE production. Delivery of IFN-gamma to the airways can prevent secondary allergen sensitization even after primary sensitization has been achieved and this effect is mediated by CD4+ T cells.

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