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Mechanisms of Th2 Immunity in Peanut Allergic Sensitization

Chu, DK;

Food allergies are immune system-driven diseases that lead to reproducible adverse reactions which can be fatal. These severe systemic reactions are primary mediated by immunoglobulin E (IgE) that is derived from B cells which have been activated by T helper type 2 (Th2) cells. While much work has advanced the clinical and pharmacological management of patients with allergic diseases, much remains to be elucidated about how individuals initially acquire allergy. This Thesis details a mechanism linking initial gastrointestinal exposure to peanut (PN) allergen, to the generation of Th2 cells: PN allergen activates epithelial cell secretion of interleukin (IL)-33 and eosinophil degranulation of eosinophil peroxidase, which causes CD103+ dendritic cell (DC) activation and migration to mesenteric lymph nodes where DC OX40L engages naïve T cells to secrete IL-4 in an autocrine/paracrine manner to promote and consolidate Th2 cell differentiation. These events are followed by B cell activation and PN-specific IgE production, which sensitizes mast cells to be hypersensitive to PN re-exposure by causing immediate allergic reactions including anaphylaxis. This is later followed by eosinophilic inflammation that is partially mediated by innate lymphoid cells. As food allergy also serves as a unique model to better understand mechanisms of adaptive immunity, especially Th2 immunobiology, both basic science and clinical implications are discussed in this Thesis. Major themes include Th2 and disease heterogeneity, identification of ‘the original source of IL-4’, an unprecedented <em>in vivo </em>requirement for eosinophils in priming adaptive immune responses, and the need to weigh basic science findings against the human disease <em>in natura </em>litmus test. Looking forward, many questions remain to be answered in the field of food allergy research, but the findings of this Thesis may be one step towards the prevention, management or cure of a disease with growing public concern, potentially fatal consequences, and an unmet need in understanding its pathogenesis.