The role of circulating food antigen-specific lymphocytes in food allergic children with atopic dermatitis

Br J Dermatol. 1996 Dec;135(6):935-41. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2133.1996.d01-1098.x.


In this study we evaluated antigen-specific in vitro responses of peripheral blood lymphocytes to lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-depleted food allergens in children who reacted to food challenge (cow's milk or hen's egg) with a deterioration of their atopic dermatitis (AD). Some of the children showed immediate symptoms (urticaria, bronchial asthma or gastrointestinal symptoms) as well. The proliferation of casein-stimulated lymphocytes from children reacting to cow's milk (age 0.7-5.9 years) was significantly higher (P < 0.01) than the proliferation of lymphocytes from 15 children with AD without milk allergy (age: 2.1-9.1 years). Twenty-eight T-cell clones (TCC) were established from the blood of three children sensitized to cow's milk and hen's egg who reacted to double-blind, placebo-controlled oral food challenge both with a deterioration of AD and with immediate symptoms. Surprisingly, 16 of 28 casein- or ovalbumin-specific TCC were CD8+. All TCC produced high amounts of IFN-gamma upon stimulation with concanavalin A. In addition, 75% of the CD4+ TCC and 44% of the CD8+ TCC secreted IL-4. Our results indicate that: (i) food-specific proliferation of blood lymphocytes can be detected in patients with clinically relevant food allergy with LPS-depleted allergens in vitro and (ii) circulating food-specific lymphocytes are CD4+ and CD8+ T cells with the capacity of producing both type 1 and type 2 cytokines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Concanavalin A
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eggs / adverse effects*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Tests
  • Infant
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Milk / adverse effects*
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Concanavalin A
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma