Food-triggered anaphylaxis can encompass a variety of symptoms that affect multiple organ systems and can be life threatening. The molecular distinction between non-life-threatening and life-threatening modes of such anaphylaxis has not yet been delineated. In this study, we sought to identify the specific immune functions that regulate the severity of oral antigen-induced anaphylaxis. We thus developed an experimental mouse model in which repeated oral challenge of ovalbumin-primed mice induced an FcεRI- and IgE-dependent oral antigen-triggered anaphylaxis that involved multiple organ systems. Strikingly, the severity of the systemic symptoms of anaphylaxis (eg, hypothermia) positively correlated with the levels of intestinal mast cells (r = -0.53; P < 0.009). In addition, transgenic mice with both increased intestinal and normal systemic levels of mast cells showed increased severity of both intestinal and extra-intestinal symptoms of IgE-mediated passive as well as oral antigen- and IgE-triggered anaphylaxis. In conclusion, these observations indicate that the density of intestinal mast cells controls the severity of oral antigen-induced anaphylaxis. Thus, an awareness of intestinal mast cell levels in patients with food allergies may aid in determining their susceptibility to life-threatening anaphylaxis and may eventually aid in the treatment of food-triggered anaphylaxis.
Copyright © 2012 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.