Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Exposure to food allergens through inflamed skin promotes intestinal food allergy via the TSLP-basophil axis
Along with all allergic diseases, the prevalence of food allergies has increased markedly in recent decades in industrialized nations. An estimated 5% of children and up to 4% of adults are living with food allergy and the fear of having a life threatening allergic reaction. Incidentally, atopic dermatitis (AD) is a known risk factor for developing food allergies later in life. However, the mechanisms through which antigen sensitization in the skin can predispose to allergic inflammation in the intestine remain unclear. Considering AD skin lesions are associated with elevated thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) expression and basophil infiltration, Noti et al determined that TSLP-elicited basophils promote antigen-induced intestinal food allergy (J Allergy Clin Immunol 2014; 133(5): 1390-99).
The authors employed a new model of food allergy by sensitizing mice to food antigens on an AD-like skin lesion that predisposed to allergic inflammation in the intestine upon oral antigen feeding. Oral antigen exposure of skin-sensitized mice resulted in antigen specific IgE responses, type-2 inflammation and the accumulation of mast cells in the intestine. In addition to intestinal food allergy, mice also developed eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)-like disease, a food allergy related disorder. They determined that antigen-induced food allergy is dependent on TSLP that elicits basophils to promote antigen-specific Th2 cytokine responses. Furthermore, the authors demonstrate that TSLP-elicited basophils are both necessary and sufficient to promote IgE-mediated intestinal food allergy in their model.
Despite the challenges associated with mouse models, Noti and colleagues have provided significant insight into mechanisms that mediate food allergy by using a novel animal model that mimics some characteristics of human disease. Targeting the TSLP-basophil axis may offer a novel therapeutic approach to treatment and prevention of food allergy.