The effect of gastric digestion on food allergy

Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 Jun;6(3):214-9. doi: 10.1097/01.all.0000225163.06016.93.


Purpose of review: The role of the stomach as the primary location of protein digestion is very well recognized, leading to classification of proteins as digestion-resistant or digestion-labile. This review analyses the role of gastric digestion in food allergy.

Recent findings: Hindrance of gastric digestion by elevation of the gastric pH, the therapeutic goal of anti-ulcer medication, was recently shown to trigger food allergy via oral sensitization in a murine food allergy model. The relevance in humans was assessed in an observational study of 152 gastroenterological patients who were medicated with anti-ulcer drugs due to dyspeptic disorders. Twenty-five percent of all patients developed a boost or de-novo IgE formation towards regular constituents of the daily diet. The clinical relevance of the induced antibodies was confirmed by positive skin and oral-provocation tests. Moreover, the importance of gastric digestion was also proven for food-allergic patients, as the allergenicity of allergens were reduced up to a 10,000-fold by gastric digestion.

Summary: These recent studies indicate for the first time the important gate-keeping function of gastric digestion, both in the sensitization and the effector phases of food allergy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / metabolism
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents / adverse effects
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism
  • Digestion*
  • Dyspepsia / epidemiology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Gastric Acidity Determination
  • Humans
  • Stomach / physiology*


  • Allergens
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents
  • Dietary Proteins