Food allergy induces alteration in brain inflammatory status and cognitive impairments

Behav Brain Res. 2019 May 17:364:374-382. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2018.01.011. Epub 2018 Jan 12.


Accumulating evidence supports an increase in emotional and behavioral problems in patients with food allergy, but the underlying mechanism remains poorly understood. Here we found that in addition to inducing an increase of allergic factors in serum, food allergy also increased levels of antigen-specific immunoglobulins and mast cell marker in the brain. In particular, food allergy increased the number of total microglia and the percentage of active microglia in the cerebral cortex and hippocampal CA1 areas, and induced the increase of TNF-α in the cerebral cortex. Importantly, these brain allergic responses were associated with behavioral impairments, including motor and learning deficits. Taken together, our study provides some evidence for profound effects of food allergy on brain functions, and thereby provides scientific basis for a better explanation of emotional and behavioral problems among patients with food allergy.

Keywords: Active microglia; Behavioral deficits; Brain inflammation; Food allergy; Mast cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / immunology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Mast Cells
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microglia