Can we produce true tolerance in patients with food allergy?

Immunology Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY. Electronic address: .
The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology (Impact Factor: 11.48). 01/2013; 131(1):14-22. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2012.10.058
Source: PubMed


Immune tolerance is defined as nonresponsiveness of the adaptive immune system to antigens. Immune mechanisms preventing inappropriate immune reactivity to innocuous antigens include deletion of reactive lymphocytes and generation of regulatory T (Treg) cells. The normal response to food antigens is the generation of antigen-specific Treg cells. In patients with food allergy, the dominant immune response is a T(H)2-skewed T-cell response and the generation of food-specific IgE antibodies from B cells. It is not known whether a failure of the Treg cell response is behind this inappropriate immune response, but interventions that boost the Treg cell response, such as mucosal immunotherapy, might lead to a restoration of immune tolerance to foods. Tolerance has been notoriously difficult to restore in animal disease models, but limited data from human trials suggest that tolerance (sustained nonresponsiveness) can be re-established in a subset of patients. Furthermore, studies on the natural history of food allergy indicate that spontaneous development of tolerance to foods over time is not uncommon. The current challenge is to understand the mechanisms responsible for restoration of natural or induced tolerance so that interventions can be developed to more successfully induce tolerance in the majority of patients with food allergy.

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