Background: cow's milk allergy (CM) is among the most common food allergies in young children and is often outgrown by adulthood. Prior to developing a tolerance to CM, a majority of CM-allergic children may tolerate extensively-heated CM. This study aims to characterize the IgE- and T cell-reactivity to unheated CM and the progressively more heated CM-containing foods.
Methods: CM-containing food extracts from muffin, baked cheese, custard and raw, pasteurized CM commercial extract were tested for skin prick test reactivity, IgE binding and T cell reactivity as assessed by IL-5 and IFNγ production.
Results: the skin prick test (SPT) reactivity was significantly decreased to muffin extract compared to raw, pasteurized CM. Both IgE- and T-cell reactivity were readily detectable against food extracts from all forms of CM. Western blot analysis of IgE reactivity revealed variability between extracts that was protein-specific. T cell-reactivity was detected against all four extracts with no significant difference in IL-5 or IFNγ production between them.
Conclusion: our data indicate that despite reduced clinical reactivity, extracts from heated CM-containing foods retain immunogenicity when tested in vitro, particularly at the T cell level.
Keywords: IgE; T cells; allergen extract; baked milk; cow’s milk allergy; extensively-heated milk.