Debates in Allergy Medicine: Does oral immunotherapy shorten the duration of milk and egg allergy? The pro argument

Valentina Pecora, Rocco Luigi Valluzzi, Maurizio Mennini, Vincenzo Fierro, Lamia Dahdah

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The development of oral tolerance or food allergy is an active process, related to dynamic interactions between host immune cells, microbiome, dietary factors, and food allergens. Oral tolerance is the default immune response in the gut. A food allergy occurs when this process fails and a pathologic Th2 response is activated. Oral food immunotherapy (OIT) aims to restore immune tolerance in food-allergic individuals. The stimulation of Tregs production seems to represent a crucial step in inducing long-term tolerance, but other mechanisms (e.g., the suppression of mast cell and basophil reactivity, changes in allergen-specific cells with regulatory markers) are involved. Several studies reported the efficacy of OIT in terms of "sustained unresponsiveness" (SU), an operational definition of immune tolerance. In successfully treated subjects, the ability to pass an oral food challenge 2 to 8 weeks after stopping the food allergen exposure seems to be conditioned by the treatment starting age, frequency, amount or type of food consumed, and by the duration of the maintenance phase. Based on the available data, the percentage of milk- and egg-allergic subjects achieving sustained unresponsiveness after an OIT ranges from 21% to 58,3%. A comprehensive understanding of mechanisms underlying the induction of oral tolerance with OIT, or natural tolerance to food allergens in healthy individuals, could potentially lead to advances in development of better treatment options for food allergic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11
JournalWorld Allergy Organization Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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