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Impact of dietary factors and food processing on food allergy


Correspondence: Dr. Jens Brockmeyer, Institute of Food Chemistry, University of Muenster, Corrensstr. 45, 48149 Münster, Germany


Fax: +49-251-83-33396


Allergic reactions to food can significantly reduce the quality of life and even result in life-threatening complications. In addition, the prevalence of food allergy has increased in the last decades in industrialized countries and the mechanisms underlying (increased) sensitization are still not fully understood. It is believed that the development and maintenance of oral tolerance to food antigens is a process actively mediated by the immune system and that this reaction is essential to inhibit sensitization. Ongoing research indicates that different dietary factors also may contribute to immune homeostasis and oral tolerance to food and that food processing modulates allergenicity. One of the major questions in food allergy research is therefore which impact nutrition and food processing may have on allergenicity of food and perhaps on sensitization. We summarize in this review the different dietary factors that are believed to contribute to induction of oral tolerance and discuss the underlying mechanisms. In addition, the functional consequences of allergen modification will be emphasized in the second part as severity of allergic reactions and perhaps sensitization to food is influenced by structural modifications of food allergens.