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Researchers demonstrate potential mechanism of food allergy

Bethesda, MD (July 20, 2006) -- Researchers have identified one of the proteins that may be responsible for causing food allergies, which could lead to the development of more accurate non-invasive tests to identify true food allergies, according to a study published in the July issue of Gastroenterology, the journal for the members of the American Gastroenterological Association.

Food allergies often present a unique problem for allergy testing since not every patient has detectable levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE) in their serum, especially patients with delayed allergies. A number of reliable testing methods exist for food and other allergies, including skin tests and serum IgE tests, however, they may not accurately diagnose food allergies. The oral food challenge is considered the most accurate test for food allergies but is expensive to administer and has to be done in a controlled environment. Immunoglobulin (antibody) E is a protein produced by plasma cells (or B-Cells , a type of lymphocyte ), which is designed to control the immune response in extracellular fluids by binding to substances in the body that are recognized as foreign.

The study, conducted at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, showed for the first time that CD23, a protein normally expressed in a person's intestinal tract, acts as a receptor for IgE, a protein associated with allergic reactions, and enables it to participate in food-allergic reactions.

"We believe that the presence of CD23 may provide a surrogate method of looking at the gut without invasive tests like biopsies," according to M. Cecilia Berin, PhD, assistant professor, pediatrics/allergy and immunology, Mount Sinai and lead author of the study.

Results of this study showed that CD23 was detectable in stool samples from food allergic patients, but not the controls, suggesting either increased levels of CD23 on intestinal cells or an allergen-induced shedding of CD2
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Contact: Aimee Frank
afrank@gastro.org
301-941-2620
American Gastroenterological Association
20-Jul-2006


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