Balancing Tolerance or Allergy to Food Proteins

Trends Immunol. 2016 Oct;37(10):659-667. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2016 Sep 3.


Dietary proteins usually induce immune tolerance, but may trigger life-threatening immune responses in the case of food allergy. The associated type 2 immunity, linked with specific IgE production and the activation of mast cells and basophils, is well understood but the mechanisms related to preventing food allergy are still being deciphered. Recent insights into the mechanisms that regulate oral tolerance and dietary antigen sampling have revealed unique regulatory events that occur during early life and into adulthood. Drawing from both recent clinical and experimental discoveries, this article focuses on current evidence for how several key stages of life present mechanistic points that might participate in tipping the balance between food protein tolerance and allergy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Basophils / immunology*
  • Cell Degranulation
  • Child
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dietary Proteins / immunology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunoglobulin E / metabolism
  • Mast Cells / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Th2 Cells / immunology*


  • Allergens
  • Cytokines
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Immunoglobulin E