, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 334-339
Date: 10 May 2011

Immunologic Similarities between Selected Autoimmune Diseases and Peanut Allergy: Possible New Therapeutic Approaches

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Food allergies are an important medical problem in Westernized countries. Allergy to peanuts is a dramatic example of a food allergy that tends to be particularly severe and long-lived. This article examines food allergy—specifically peanut allergy—from the perspective that tolerance to foods is a normal state, just as tolerance to self-proteins is a normal state. From this vantage point, loss of tolerance to foods in food-allergic individuals can be viewed as parallel to the loss of tolerance to self-proteins in those with autoimmune diseases. Although our knowledge base is far from satisfactory, there are important similarities in the immunologic abnormalities that are characteristic of both peanut allergy and several autoimmune diseases. Delineation of these similarities may open the door to new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of severe food allergies.