Food Science and Technology Department


Date of this Version



The Journal of Immunology, 2005, 174: pp. 174–179.


Copyright © 2005 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc. Used by permission.


Although food allergy has emerged as a major health problem, the mechanisms that are decisive in the development of sensitization to dietary Ag remain largely unknown. CTLA-4 signaling negatively regulates immune activation, and may play a crucial role in preventing induction and/or progression of sensitization to food Ag. To elucidate the role of CTLA-4 signaling in responses to food allergens, a murine model of peanut allergy was used. During oral exposure to peanut protein extract (PPE) together with the mucosal adjuvant cholera toxin (CT), which induces peanut allergy, CTLA-4 ligation was prevented using a CTLA-4 mAb. Additionally, the effect of inhibition of the CTLA-4 pathway on oral exposure to PPE in the absence of CT, which leads to unresponsiveness to peanut Ag, was explored. During sensitization, anti-CTLA-4 treatment considerably enhanced IgE responses to PPE and the peanut allergens, Ara h 1, Ara h 3, and Ara h 6, resulting in elevated mast cell degranulation upon an oral challenge. Remarkably, antagonizing CTLA-4 during exposure to PPE in the absence of CT resulted in significant induction of Th2 cytokines and an elevation in total serum IgE levels, but failed to induce allergen-specific IgE responses and mast cell degranulation upon a PPE challenge. These results indicate that CTLA-4 signaling is not the crucial factor in preventing sensitization to food allergens, but plays a pivotal role in regulating the intensity of a food allergic sensitization response. Furthermore, these data indicate that a profoundly Th2-biased cytokine environment is insufficient to induce allergic responses against dietary Ag.

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