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BACKGROUND: Insect-bite hypersensitivity (IBH) in horses is a chronic allergic dermatitis caused by insect bites. Horses suffer from pruritic skin lesions, caused by type-I/type-IV allergic reactions accompanied by prominent eosinophil infiltration into the skin. Interleukin-5 (IL-5) is the key cytokine for eosinophils and we have previously shown that targeting IL-5 by vaccination reduces disease symptoms in horses. OBJECTIVE: Here, we analyzed the potential for long-term therapy by assessing a second follow-up year of the previously published study. METHODS: The vaccine consisted of equine IL-5 (eIL-5) covalently linked to a cucumber mosaic virus-like particle (VLP) containing a universal T cell epitope (CuMVTT ) using a semi-crossover design to follow vaccinated horses during a second treatment season. Thirty Icelandic horses were immunized with 300 μg of eIL-5-CuMVTT without adjuvant. RESULTS: The vaccine was well tolerated and did not reveal any safety concerns throughout the study. Upon vaccination, all horses developed reversible anti-eIL-5 auto-antibody titers. The mean course of eosinophil levels was reduced compared to placebo treatment leading to significant reduction of clinical lesion scores. Horses in their second vaccination year showed a more pronounced improvement of disease symptoms when compared to first treatment year, most likely due to more stable antibody titers induced by a single booster injection. Hence, responses could be maintained over two seasons and the horses remained protected against disease symptoms. CONCLUSION: Yearly vaccination against IL-5 may be a long-term solution for the treatment of IBH and other eosinophil-mediated diseases in horses and other species including humans.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





572 - 582


allergic dermatitis, eosinophils, vaccination