Epicutaneous sensitization results in IgE-dependent intestinal mast cell expansion and food-induced anaphylaxis.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Sensitization to food antigen can occur through cutaneous exposure.


We sought to test the hypothesis that epicutaneous sensitization with food antigen predisposes to IgE-mediated anaphylaxis on oral allergen challenge.


BALB/c mice were epicutaneously sensitized by repeated application of ovalbumin (OVA) to tape-stripped skin over 7 weeks or orally immunized with OVA and cholera toxin (CT) weekly for 8 weeks and then orally challenged with OVA. Body temperature was monitored, and serum mouse mast cell protease 1 levels were determined after challenge. Tissue mast cell (MC) counts were examined by using chloroacetate esterase staining. Levels of serum OVA-specific IgE and IgG(1) antibodies and cytokines in supernatants of OVA-stimulated splenocytes were measured by means of ELISA. Serum IL-4 levels were measured by using an in vivo cytokine capture assay.


Epicutaneously sensitized mice exhibited expansion of connective tissue MCs in the jejunum, increased serum IL-4 levels, and systemic anaphylaxis after oral challenge, as evidenced by decreased body temperature and increased serum mouse mast cell protease 1 levels. Intestinal MC expansion and anaphylaxis were IgE dependent because they did not occur in epicutaneously sensitized IgE(-/-) mice. Mice orally immunized with OVA plus CT did not have increased serum IL-4 levels, expanded intestinal MCs, or anaphylaxis after oral challenge, despite OVA-specific IgE levels and splenocyte cytokine production in response to OVA stimulation, which were comparable with those of epicutaneously sensitized mice.


Epicutaneously sensitized mice, but not mice orally immunized with antigen plus CT, have expansion of intestinal MCs and IgE-mediated anaphylaxis after single oral antigen challenge. IgE is necessary but not sufficient for food anaphylaxis, and MC expansion in the gut can play an important role in the development of anaphylaxis.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bartnikas, LM; Gurish, MF; Burton, OT; Leisten, S; Janssen, E; Oettgen, HC; Beaupré, J; Lewis, CN; Austen, KF; Schulte, S; Hornick, JL; Geha, RS; Oyoshi, MK

Published Date

  • February 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 131 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 451-60.e1-6 -

PubMed ID

  • 23374269

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3587010

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1097-6825

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0091-6749

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jaci.2012.11.032


  • eng