Food Allergy: Our Evolving Understanding of Its Pathogenesis, Prevention, and Treatment

Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2016 May;16(5):37. doi: 10.1007/s11882-016-0616-7.


Food allergy is defined as an IgE-mediated hypersensitivity response to ingested food with allergic symptoms ranging from urticaria to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Food allergy is thought to develop because of (1) failed induction of tolerance upon initial exposure to food antigen or (2) breakdown of established tolerance to food antigen. We review current understanding of the pathogenesis, epidemiology, and natural history of food allergy, including the unconventional IgE-mediated food allergy to mammalian meat known as alpha-gal food allergy. We highlight emerging data on food allergy treatment and prevention, emphasizing the growing appeal of manipulating the gut microenvironment using probiotics and helminth products to blunt systemic allergic responses to food.

Keywords: Alpha-gal; Food allergy; Helminth; Microbiota; Peanut allergy; Probiotics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Food Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / prevention & control
  • Food Hypersensitivity / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Meat
  • Microbiota
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use


  • Immunoglobulin E