The major allergen of ragweed pollen, antigen E, was modified by coupling its amino acid groups with either methanol, methoxypolyethylene glycol (MPEG) of 5,000 daltons, or a synthetic copolymer of D-glutamic acid and D-lysine (DGL) of 34,000 daltons, all appropriately activated. The conjugates were characterized chemically and immunologically. Compared to the native antigen, the methoxy conjugate showed little reduction in allergenic activity, but the other two conjugates showed strong reductions, as measured by heterologous passive cutaneous anaphylaxis in rats sensitized with murine anti-antigen E reaginic sera. The MPEG conjugate was apparently nonimmunogenic in mice known to be high responders to the native antigen. MPEG and DGL conjugates retained the immunosuppressive property of the native antigen as subcutaneous treatment of antigen E sensitized mice with these two conjugates led to significant long-lasting depression of their antigen E-specific IgE and IgG antibody levels. These immunological changes are believed to result from reduction of antigenic valency and specificity upon coupling the bulky molecules to the protein antigens.

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