Background Food allergy is a common allergic disorder – especially in early childhood. The avoidance of the allergenic food is the only available method to prevent further reactions in sensitized patients. A better understanding of the immunologic mechanisms involved in this reaction would help to develop therapeutic approaches applicable to the prevention of food allergy.
Objective To establish a multi-cell in vitro model of sensitized intestinal epithelium that mimics the intestinal epithelial barrier to study the capacity of probiotic microorganisms to modulate permeability, translocation and immunoreactivity of ovalbumin (OVA) used as a model antigen.
Methods Polarized Caco-2 cell monolayers were conditioned by basolateral basophils and used to examine apical to basolateral transport of OVA by ELISA. Activation of basophils with translocated OVA was measured by β-hexosaminidase release assay. This experimental setting was used to assess how microorganisms added apically affected these parameters. Basolateral secretion of cytokine/chemokines by polarized Caco-2 cell monolayers was analysed by ELISA.
Results Basophils loaded with OVA-specific IgE responded to OVA in a dose-dependent manner. OVA transported across polarized Caco-2 cell monolayers was found to trigger basolateral basophil activation. Microorganisms including lactobacilli and Escherichia coli increased transepithelial electrical resistance while promoting OVA passage capable to trigger basophil activation. Non-inflammatory levels of IL-8 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin were produced basolaterally by Caco-2 cells exposed to microorganisms.
Conclusion The complex model designed inhere is adequate to learn about the consequence of the interaction between microorganisms and epithelial cells vis-a-vis the barrier function and antigen translocation, two parameters essential to mucosal homeostasis. It can further serve as a direct tool to search for microorganisms with anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties.