Mechanisms

Food allergy refers to the immediate-type IgE-mediated adverse reaction towards food allergens. Food allergy is the result of an aberrant immune response towards harmless food antigens. The immune response is skewed towards a T helper 2 response, associated with the cytokines IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13. This T cell response leads to the induction of IgE production towards allergens by B cells. IgE in turn binds to the IgE receptor on mast cells. When the allergen is re-encountered, IgE can be cross-linked, leading to degranulation of mast cells. The mediators released by the mast cells lead to the typical allergic symptoms, such as itching or sneezing.