Scope: Oral immunotherapy (OIT) involving continuous oral administration of allergenic foods has gained attention as a therapy for food allergies. To study the influence of oral administration of allergenic foods on gastrointestinal symptoms including inflammation, we established a mouse model of food-induced intestinal allergy.
Methods and results: BALB/c mice were fed an egg white (EW) diet containing ovalbumin (OVA, a major EW allergen) after intraperitoneal sensitisation with OVA and Alum. The mice on the EW diet for one wk presented gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e. weight loss and soft stools) and inflammation in the small intestines (i.e. duodenum, jejunum and ileum). Further continuous EW diet resolved the weight loss but not the soft stools. Splenic CD4+ T-cells of EW diet-fed mice on the continuous diet showed less proliferation and cytokine production compared with those of control mice, suggesting tolerance induction by the diet. The continuous EW diet reduced levels of OVA-specific IgE antibodies, but significantly aggravated the inflammation in the jejunum.
Conclusion: Our mouse model would be useful to investigate inflammatory and regulatory mechanisms in food-induced intestinal allergies. Our results suggest potential gastrointestinal inflammation in patients undergoing OIT as continuous administration of allergenic foods, even though the therapy may induce clinical tolerance.