Early life innate immune signatures of persistent food allergy

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Abstract

Background

Food allergy naturally resolves in a proportion of food-allergic children without intervention; however the underlying mechanisms governing the persistence or resolution of food allergy in childhood are not understood.

Objectives

This study aimed to define the innate immune profiles associated with egg allergy at age 1 year, determine the phenotypic changes that occur with the development of natural tolerance in childhood, and explore the relationship between early life innate immune function and serum vitamin D.

Methods

This study used longitudinally collected PBMC samples from a population-based cohort of challenge-confirmed egg-allergic infants with either persistent or transient egg allergy outcomes in childhood to phenotype and quantify the functional innate immune response associated with clinical phenotypes of egg allergy.

Results

We show that infants with persistent egg allergy exhibit a unique innate immune signature, characterized by increased numbers of circulating monocytes and dendritic cells that produce more inflammatory cytokines both at baseline and following endotoxin exposure when compared with infants with transient egg allergy. Follow-up analysis revealed that this unique innate immune signature continues into childhood in those with persistent egg allergy and that increased serum vitamin D levels correlate with changes in innate immune profiles observed in children who developed natural tolerance to egg.

Conclusions

Early life innate immune dysfunction may represent a key immunological driver and predictor of persistent food allergy in childhood. Serum vitamin D may play an immune-modulatory role in the development of natural tolerance.

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