Advancing the health and well-being of animals and people

Fellow: Fei Huang

Mentor: Avery August
Contact Information: Email:; Phone: 607-253-3401
Sponsor: USDA-NIFA
Grant Number: 2011-67012-30698
Title: Roles of Unique Subsets of the Intestinal Intra Epithelial Lymphocytes (IEL) in the Development of Food-Borne Allergy
Annual Direct Cost: $65,000
Project Period: 09/01/2011-08/31/2013

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Food allergy has been rising as a serious health problem in US. The prevalence of egg allergy is estimated to be 1.6 - 3.2% of the pediatric population. The interactions of the food borne allergen and gut mucosal immune system may play a critical role in food allergy. We recently found two specialized immune cells residing within the intestine that may regulate the sensitivity to food allergens. These are {alpha beta}-T cells bearing CD8{alpha alpha} and a specific population of {gamma delta}-T cells. In order to understand how the mucosal immunity in gut determines whether food allergy develops or not, we propose to build novel animal models of food allergy, and examine the role of specific immune cell populations in the development of food allergic responses. We will first develop a novel model of food allergy based on exposure to egg albumin and gluten, a wheat protein, which may enhance access of food allergens to the immune system. Through this novel model, we will further test the hypothesis that specific immune cell populations mentioned above regulate the development of food allergy. The rationale for this proposal is that once we know the mechanism by which food allergens develop, we can use this information to eventually develop strategies to interfere with the process. If successful, our work will provide an innovative and realistic model of food allergy development, which will allow us to develop effective strategies to treat and prevent the food allergy responses.