Background: Peanut allergy is a major cause of fatal and near-fatal anaphylactic reactions to foods. There is no curative therapy for this condition. Traditional Chinese medicines have been reported to have antiallergic properties, which might be useful for treating peanut allergy.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a Chinese herbal formula, FAHF-1, on peanut anaphylactic reactions in a mouse model of peanut allergy.
Methods: Mice were sensitized with freshly ground whole peanut in the presence of cholera toxin and boosted 1 and 3 weeks later. FAHF-1 treatment was initiated 1 week later and continued for 7 weeks. After treatment, mice were challenged with peanut, and anaphylactic symptoms, body temperatures, and plasma histamine and IgE levels were measured. T-cell proliferative responses and cytokine production were also determined.
Results: FAHF-1 completely blocked peanut-induced anaphylactic symptoms and markedly reduced mast cell degranulation and histamine release. Peanut-specific serum IgE levels were significantly reduced by 2 weeks of treatment at the time of challenge, and they remained lower 4 weeks after discontinuation of treatment. FAHF-1 significantly reduced peanut-induced lymphocyte proliferation as well as IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13 synthesis but not IFN-gamma synthesis. No toxic effects on liver or kidney functions were observed, nor was there any overall immune suppression.
Conclusion: FAHF-1 protected peanut-sensitized mice from anaphylactic reactions and significantly reversed established IgE-mediated peanut allergy. This suggests that FAHF-1 might prove valuable for the treatment of peanut allergy.