A similar high level of immunoglobulin A and immunoglobulin G class milk antibodies and increment of local lymphoid tissue on the duodenal mucosa in subjects with cow's milk allergy and recurrent abdominal pains


Dr Jorma Kokkonen, MD, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, University of Oulu, Kajaanintie 52 A, FIN-90220 Oulu, Finland
Tel.: +358 8315 5126
Fax: +358 8315 5559
E-mail: jorma.kokkonen@oulu.fi


In previous studies, we have reported endoscopic and histological alterations locally on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract associated with a gastrointestinal type of cow's milk allergy. In this study, we sought to further characterize endoscopic, and immunological findings in these children. We also hypothesized that the same type of immune responses might also be found in children with unexplained and recurrent abdominal pains. We did a gastroduodenoscopy for persistent GI symptoms, examined the mucosal histology of the small intestine and measured the antibodies to whole cow's milk and its fractions with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in a consecutive series of 22 subjects with untreated and 14 with treated cow's milk allergy (CMA) and 44 with recurrent abdominal pains (RAP). The immunological findings of the study subjects were compared with 54 controls. Lymphonodular hyperplasia (LNH) of the duodenum was the main endoscopic finding in 11 subjects (50%) with untreated and 5 (36%) with treated CMA. It was also found in 6 of 44 subjects with RAP. Compared with the controls, the patients with CMA showed significantly higher levels of IgA class antibodies to whole milk (p = 0.003) and βLG (p < 0.0001). Of the IgG class antibodies to βLG (p = 0.032), BSA (p < 0.0001) and αCAS (p < 0.0001) were significantly higher. The patients with LNH of the duodenal bulb as the main endoscopic finding showed significantly higher values of IgG class antibodies to βLG (p = 0.01) and αCAS (p = 0.005). Interestingly, the patients examined for RAP showed a similar increment in the pattern of whole milk and specific milk protein antibodies as the CMA children. In conclusion this study showed that gastrointestinal CMA beyond infancy is significantly associated with high levels of IgG and IgA class antibodies to milk and its fractions. As high levels of these antibodies and LNH of the duodenal bulb were also found in subjects with RAP, the study further suggests that gastrointestinal CMA might be one major reason for RAP.