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Oral exposure to the free amino acid glycine inhibits the acute allergic response in a model of cow’s milk allergy in mice

van Bergenhenegouwen, J;Braber, S;Loonstra, R;Buurman, N;Rutten, L;Knipping, K;Savelkoul, P;Harthoorn, L;Jahnsen, F;Garssen, J;Hartog, A;

The conditionally essential amino acid glycine functions as inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system. Moreover, it has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory compound in animal models of ischemic perfusion, post-operative inflammation, periodontal disease, arthritis and obesity. Glycine acts by binding to a glycine-gated chloride channel, which has been demonstrated on neurons and immune cells, including macrophages, polymorphonuclear neutrophils and lymphocytes. The present study aims to evaluate the effect of glycine on allergy development in a cow’s milk allergy model. To this end, C3H/HeOuJ female mice were supplemented with glycine by oral gavage (50 or 100 mg/mouse) 4 hours prior to sensitization with cow’s milk whey protein, using cholera toxin as adjuvant. Acute allergic skin responses and anaphylaxis were assessed after intradermal allergen challenge in the ears. Mouse mast cell protease-1 (mMCP-1) and whey specific IgE levels were detected in blood collected 30 minutes after an oral allergen challenge. Jejunum was dissected and evaluated for the presence of mMCP-1-positive cells by immunohistochemistry. Intake of glycine significantly inhibited allergy development in a concentration dependent manner as indicated by a reduction in; acute allergic skin response, anaphylaxis, serum mMCP-1 and serum levels of whey specific IgE. In addition, in-vitro experiments using rat basophilic leukemia cells (RBL), showed that free glycine inhibited cytokine release but not cellular degranulation. These findings support the hypothesis that the onset of cow’s milk allergy is prevented by the oral intake of the amino acid glycine. An adequate intake of glycine might be important in the improvement of tolerance against whey allergy or protection against (whey-induced) allergy development.