Elicitation of the allergic reaction in beta-lactoglobulin-sensitized Balb/c mice: biochemical and clinical manifestations differ according to the structure of the allergen used for challenge

Clin Exp Allergy. 2003 Mar;33(3):376-85. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2222.2003.01613.x.


Background: Mouse models of allergy are used to study the mechanisms of induction and perpetuation of bronchopulmonary hyper-reactivity (BHR) as related to eosinophils and specific IgE.

Objective: Our aim was to adapt the current model for the study of bovine beta-lactoglobulin (BLG), a major cow's milk allergen, and to further analyse the mechanisms of the acute and late allergic reaction.

Methods: Female Balb/c mice were sensitized intraperitoneally with BLG and the influence of the adjuvant and of the BLG dose on the IgE response was analysed, IgE and IgG1 epitopes being characterized. Once optimized, this model was applied to the study of the active phase of allergy in the respiratory tract after a single airway challenge using native or denatured BLG, which contains only linear epitopes.

Results: An immediate allergic reaction was characterized by the rapid release of histamine into the bronchoalveolar lavage fluids. Prostaglandin (PG)D2 was only present when the standard histamine-releasing agent compound 48/80 or denatured BLG were used as triggers, whereas native BLG induced leukotriene release. Twenty-four hours after challenge, BHR, eosinophil influx, IL-4 and IL-5 production, plasma exudation and mucus production were very much increased, differently depending on the allergen structure, and indicated the occurrence of the late allergic reaction. Our results show that the murine model can be used to study the mechanisms of allergy to clinically relevant antigens, such as those contained in cow's milk. The acute allergic reaction, which depends on the structural feature of the allergen, is composed of two distinct pathways characterized by peptido-leukotrienes or PGD2 production, which may result from distinct activation intensities of mast cells, leading to distinct late reactions.

Conclusion: This study thus demonstrates a clear link between the structural feature of a protein, and the physiopathology of the experimental asthmatic reaction.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / immunology*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / physiopathology
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / immunology*
  • Cattle
  • Eosinophils / enzymology
  • Female
  • Histamine Release / physiology
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques / methods
  • Immunoglobulin E / metabolism
  • Inflammation Mediators / immunology*
  • Interleukins / metabolism
  • Lactoglobulins / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C / immunology
  • Milk Hypersensitivity
  • Models, Animal
  • Mucus / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Interleukins
  • Lactoglobulins
  • Immunoglobulin E