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Clinical and experimental studies of food allergy and tolerance mechanisms in the intestine

Clinical studies

Many patients with pollen allergy also have food related gastrointestinal disorders particularly during the pollen season, and some of these patients also suffer from asthma. We have previously shown that birch pollen allergic patients display an aggravated allergic inflammation in the small intestinal mucosa which is related to birch pollen exposure. It is also known that pollen allergic patients get worse in their asthma during the pollen season.

We currently investigating if patients with both asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis show an aggravated allergic inflammation in the gastrointestinal mucosa during the pollen season as compared with patients with only rhinoconjunctivitis, and whether the symptoms are connected to intake of pollen related food constituents. We collect allergy connected clinical and serological data from birch pollen allergic patients with or without asthma.

The selected patient will be subjected to gastroscopy and biopsies are taken from the duodenal mucosa both during and outside the birch pollen season. The degree of allergic inflammation in the biopsies is quantified by immunohistochemistry and serum IgE reactive patterns to birch related food components are analysed with a peptide microarray based ELISA method.

Experimental studies

The vast majority of environmental antigens enters the body via the gastrointestinal tract. The ability to discriminate between harmful and harmless environmental antigens is of crucial importance for the immune system in order to avoid hypersensitivity reactions. We have previously described a tolerogenic exosome structure (tolerosome) that is produced by the intestinal epithelial cells and has a high tolerogenic capacity.

The purpose of our research activity is to describe the mechanisms behind the profound immuno-modulation exerted by these exosomes. In this work we use animal models to investigate:

  • Uptake of environmental antigen in the gut lumen and assembly of antigens in the IEC and the formation of antigen bearing exosomes in vivo and in vitro.
  • The dissemination of the exosomes withinin the organism.
  • The interplay between the exosomes and subtypes of dendritic cells in the generation of regulatory T-cells.
  • The importance of the commensal micro flora for the generation of tolerogenic exosomes.
  • The microRNA content of the IEC exosomes as possible “second message”.

The results will form a basis for revealing mechanisms behind the handling of foreign antigens at mucosal surfaces and help us to understand how the immune system avoids hypersensitivity reactions to harmless environmental antigens.


Esbjörn Telemo

Box 480, 405 30 Göteborg

Guldhedsgatan 10A

031-342 47 70

Sidansvarig: kommunikation@medicine.gu.se|Sidan uppdaterades: 2017-05-31

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