Background: Animal models are needed that mimic human IgE-mediated peanut and tree nut allergy. Atopic dogs have been previously used in a model of food allergy to cow's milk, beef, wheat, and soy, with the demonstration of specific IgE production and positive oral challenges similar to those seen in human subjects.
Objective: We sought to sensitize dogs to peanut, walnut, and Brazil nut and to assess whether sensitization is accompanied by clinical reactions and whether there is cross-reactivity among the different preparations.
Methods: Eleven dogs were sensitized subcutaneously by using an established protocol with 1 microg each of peanut, English walnut, or Brazil nut protein extracts in alum first at birth and then after modified live virus vaccinations at 3, 7, and 11 weeks of age. The dogs were sensitized to other allergens, including soy and either wheat or barley. Intradermal skin tests, IgE immunoblotting to nut proteins, and oral challenges were performed with ground nut preparations.
Results: At 6 months of age, the dogs' intradermal skin test responses were positive to the nut extracts. IgE immunoblotting to peanut, walnut, and Brazil nut showed strong recognition of proteins in the aqueous preparations. Each of the 4 peanut- and the 3 Brazil nut-sensitized dogs and 3 of the 4 walnut-sensitized dogs reacted on oral challenge with the corresponding primary immunogen at age 2 years. None of the peanut-sensitized dogs reacted clinically with walnut or Brazil nut challenges. One of the walnut-sensitized dogs had delayed (overnight) vomiting to Brazil nut.
Conclusions: On the basis of measurements of the mean amount of allergen eliciting a skin test response in dogs, the hierarchy of reactivity by skin testing is similar to the clinical experience in human subjects (peanut > tree nuts > wheat > soy > barley). Cross-reactivity, which was not apparent between soy and peanut or tree nuts or between peanut and tree nuts, was slight between walnut and Brazil nut. The results give further support to the dog as a model of human food allergy.