Background: Gastrointestinal allergy often precedes or coexists with respiratory allergy.
Objective: We hypothesized that established experimental gastrointestinal allergy would prime for the development of allergic respiratory responses.
Methods: BALB/c mice were sensitized with ovalbumin (OVA) in the presence of aluminum potassium sulfate and then subjected to intragastric saline or OVA challenges. After the development of allergen-induced gastrointestinal allergy, mice were intranasally exposed to either saline, OVA, or a neoaeroallergen house dust mite (HDM) extract. Airway inflammation (eg, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid cellularity, cytokine levels, and OVA-specific antibody levels) and airway responsiveness to methacholine exposure were assessed after intranasal allergen exposure.
Results: A single intranasal exposure to OVA induced significantly more airway inflammation in intragastric OVA-challenged mice compared with that seen in intragastric saline-treated mice. Kinetic analysis revealed that the observed amplification of lung inflammation was sustained for up to 12 days after the last intragastric OVA challenge after resolution of blood eosinophilia. When mice with gastrointestinal allergy were repeatedly challenged with HDM in the respiratory tract, they experienced enhanced airway inflammation, including bronchoalveolar lavage fluid eosinophilia and increased IL-13 levels.
Conclusion: Taken together, our results demonstrate that OVA-induced gastrointestinal allergy enhances not only allergic airway responses to OVA but also to HDM, an unrelated aeroallergen.
Clinical implications: Experimental gastrointestinal allergy primes for responses to allergens in the respiratory tract, enhancing antigen-specific antibody and T(H)2 cytokine production, airway inflammation, and airway hyperresponsiveness.