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Keywords:

  • Ara h 2;
  • Ara h 6;
  • desensitization;
  • food allergy;
  • human basophil assay;
  • immunotherapy;
  • mouse model;
  • peanut allergy

Summary

Background

Ara h 2 and Ara h 6, co-purified together in a 13–25 kD fraction (Ara h 2/6; 20 kD fraction) on gel filtration chromatography, account for the majority of effector activity in a crude peanut extract (CPE) when assayed with RBL SX-38 cells sensitized with IgE from human peanut allergic sera.

Objectives

To determine if Ara h 2/6 are the primary peanut allergens responsible for allergic reactions in vivo and to determine if Ara h 2/6 would be sufficient to prevent allergic reactions to a complete CPE.

Methods

An oral sensitization mouse model of peanut allergy was used to assess the activity of Ara h 2/6 (20 kD) and CPE without the 20 kD fraction (CPE w/o 20 kD) for allergic provocation challenge and immunotherapy. The activity of these preparations was also tested in an assay of histamine release from human basophils in whole blood.

Results

Compared with mice challenged with control CPE, mice challenged with CPE w/o 20 kD experienced reduced symptoms (< 0.05) and a smaller decrease in body temperature (< 0.01). Results with the basophil histamine release assay corroborated these findings (< 0.01). The mouse model was also used to administer Ara h 2/6 (20 kD) in an immunotherapy protocol, in which peanut-allergic mice treated with the 20 kD fraction experienced significantly reduced symptoms, changes in body temperature, and mast cell protease (MMCP-1) release compared with placebo (< 0.01 for all parameters). Importantly, immunotherapy with the 20 kD fraction was just as effective as treatment with CPE, whereas CPE w/o 20 kD was significantly less effective for higher dose peanut challenges.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

Ara h 2/6 are the most potent peanut allergens in vivo and can be used to desensitize peanut-allergic mice. These results have potential implications for clinical research in the areas of diagnosis and immunotherapy for peanut allergy.