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Keywords:

  • food allergies;
  • animal models;
  • IgE

Abstract: Specific food allergy is characterized by sensitization to innocuous food proteins with production of allergen-specific IgE that binds to receptors on basophils and mast cells. Upon recurrent exposure to the same allergen, an allergic response is induced by mediator release following cross-linking of cell-bound allergen-specific IgE. The determination of what makes an innocuous food protein an allergen in predisposed individuals is unknown; however, mechanistic and protein allergen predictive models are being actively investigated in a number of animal models. Currently, there is no animal model that will actively profile known food allergens, predict the allergic potential of novel food proteins, or demonstrate clinically the human food allergic sensitization/allergic response. Animal models under investigation include mice, rats, the guinea pig, atopic dog, and neonatal swine. These models are being assessed for production of IgE, clinical responses to re-exposure, and a ranking of food allergens (based on potency) including a nonfood allergen protein source. A selection of animal models actively being investigated that will contribute to our understanding of what makes a protein an allergen and future predictive models for assessing the allergenicity of novel proteins is presented in this review.