Applying peanut extract to the skin may be an alternative method of inducing tolerance to peanuts

A collaborative study between the Hart and Louise Lyon Immunology Laboratory, Section of Clinical Immunology/Allergy, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Clinical Immunology/Allergy, Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA and the Department of Dermatology, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China has found that application of peanut extract and ovalbumin to intact skin can prevent the development of the corresponding orally induced allergies – suggesting that allergic tolerance to peanuts and ovalbumin can be achieved by clinical application to the skin.

Because the options for the treatment and prevention of severe food allergies are limited, the study is aiming to test whether the skin application of a food allergen could be used as a preventative or therapeutic intervention for food allergy.

The test was carried out on the shaved backs of laboratory mice, who were given 5 weekly skin applications of either peanut extract or ovalbumin ranging from 10 to 1000 µg followed by five weekly treatments with oral peanut extract or ovalbumin with cholera toxin to induce allergic reactivity. The mice’s immunologic responses and allergic symptoms were examined.

The scientists found that the skin application blocked, with success depending on the dose given, the induction of the oral sensitization plus it inhibited oral sensitization-induced peanut extract-specific IgE, IgG1 and IgG2a production, which suppressed peanut anaphylaxis. The same results were found for the ovalbumin.

Source: Allergy: The European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

First published in May 2012

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