Nature Immunology 2, 353 - 360 (April 2001)

Celiac.com 04/12/2001 - According to an article published in the April issue of Nature Immunology, Dr. Marc Rothenberg and colleagues at the Childrens Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio performed a series of experiments on mice which led them to the conclusion that white blood cells called eosinophils could be the cause of many food allergies and gastrointestinal inflammation. The researchers believe that the eosinophil cells, which are present throughout the body, mistakenly identify food proteins as germs in individuals with food allergies. When the intestinal lining of an allergic person is exposed to an allergen, a substance called eotaxin is released by the cells lining the intestine, which causes the eosinophil cells and other immune cells to attack them and release powerful proteins that destroy the surrounding tissues and cause eosinophilic inflammation.

The results of this study are unique because this is the first time eosinophils cells have been implicated in causing allergies, even though scientists have known for some time that they were present in great numbers at the sites of inflammation caused by reactions to food. The implication of this study is the possible development of drugs that stop this reaction from occurring, and thus prevent digestive inflammation and destruction that occurs when people with food allergies eat foods to which they are allergic. These results put scientists one step further in understanding how and why the digestive system is attacked in certain individuals, and a possible means of one day controlling the process.

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