Eosinophilic esophagitis in adults – no clinical relevance of wheat and rye sensitizations


Dagmar Simon, MD
Department of Dermatology, Inselspital
University of Bern
CH-3010 Bern


Background:  Eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) is often associated with concomitant atopic diseases. In children with EE in whom food allergens have been identified as causative factors, elemental and elimination diets result in an improvement or resolution of symptoms. Most adult EE patients are sensitized to aeroallergens, which cross-react with plant-derived food allergens, most commonly to grass pollen and cereals.

Aims of the study:  To investigate the clinical relevance of the sensitization to wheat and rye, and the efficacy of an allergen-specific elimination diet in adult EE patients.

Methods:  Six patients (five men, one women) with permanently active EE sensitized to grass pollen and the cereals wheat and rye underwent a double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge and were kept on an elimination diet avoiding wheat and rye for 6 weeks.

Results:  The challenge tests with wheat and rye did not provoke any EE symptoms in all patients. The elimination diet failed in reducing disease activity. Although one patient noticed an improvement of symptoms, endoscopic and histopathologic findings remained unchanged.

Conclusions:  In adult EE patients, sensitization to wheat and rye does not seem causative for EE. Elimination diet is not a reliable and efficient therapeutic measure in EE patients sensitized to wheat and rye. Low specific immunoglobulin-E levels to wheat and rye may be a consequence of the underlying grass pollen allergy.