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Immune response phenotype of allergic versus clinically tolerant pigs in a neonatal swine model of allergy

Schmied, J;Rupa, P;Garvie, S;Wilkie, B;

The prevalence of childhood food allergy and the duration of these allergies, particularly those considered to be transient, like egg and milk allergy, are increasing. The identification of allergic individuals using minimally invasive, non-anaphylaxis-threatening methods is therefore of increasing importance. In this experiment, correlates were sought of an allergic immune response (IR) phenotype in pigs. Using pigs pre-treated with heat-killed bacteria or bacterial components before allergic sensitization with the egg white protein ovomucoid (Ovm), differences were determined in IR phenotype of pigs in the categories treated-allergic, treated-tolerant, control-allergic (CA) and control-tolerant. Phenotype was established by measuring immunoglobulin (Ig)-associated antibody activity (AbA), cytokine profiles and the proportion of blood T-regulatory cells (T-regs) and observing late-phase allergen-specific skin tests (ST). Although 100% of pigs became sensitized to Ovm, only 33% of pigs had clinical signs of allergy after oral challenge with egg white. Pigs without clinical signs were classified as clinically tolerant. Sixty-seven percent of allergic pigs had a positive, late-phase ST classified as very strong or strong, while 84% of clinically tolerant pigs did not have late-phase ST. Treated-allergic pigs and CA pigs had greater total antibody IgG (H+L), IgE and IgG1 AbA than clinically tolerant pigs. Cytokine profiles of allergic pigs and the proportion of circulating T-regs, did not differ significantly between allergic and clinically tolerant pigs. Therefore, measurement of allergen-specific IgG, IgG1 and/or IgE activity and evaluation of late-phase ID ST may be useful in identifying allergic IR phenotypes in swine models of food allergy, which may be extended toward human use.