, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 186-193
Date: 04 Apr 2009

Oral immunotherapy for food allergy

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Abstract

Food allergy is an increasingly prevalent disorder with potentially life-threatening complications that requires life-altering changes in dietary habits and psychosocial interactions. The standard of care presently includes strict dietary elimination of the implicated allergen and ready access to injectable epinephrine; however, no active, definitive therapeutic options exist for food-allergic patients. Although the detailed immunologic mechanisms underlying the development of food allergy are still being fully defined, food allergy appears to be the direct result of a breakdown in oral tolerance. Thus, current therapeutic approaches to food allergy are focused on modulating the immunologic response to food proteins to promote induction of oral tolerance. In this review, we examine gastrointestinal mucosal immunity and the mechanisms of oral tolerance, as well as the breakdown in oral tolerance that promotes food allergy, and we also explore novel therapeutic interventions for treatment of food allergy.