Animal Models for the Study of Food Allergies

Imptox researchers from the Medical University of Vienna published a comprehensive overview of animal models for the study of food allergies in the Journal Current Protocols of Immunology.

Allergies to food proteins are adverse immunologic responses occurring when eating allergenic foods like peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, and sesame. In the last decades, food allergies have increased to about 10% of the population - over 220 million people worldwide. The symptoms can be mild or severe, from nausea to abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, hives, difficulty breathing, and anaphylactic shock. Trace amounts of food allergens can cause allergies that could be fatal, and that means that allergic individuals must be highly cautious about accidental exposure, which causes a dramatic change in their life quality.

On March 23, 2023, Sahar Kazemi, Ece Danisman, and Michelle M. Epstein from the Medical University of Vienna published a comprehensive overview on food allergy models in mice. The overview paper in Current Protocols of Immunology focuses on developing experimental animal models and how they help us understand human food allergies.

The authors selected a series of models to highlight the protocols, limitations and challenges. They also provided guidelines for researchers working or starting to work in the field to help them choose suitable models based on their research goals to do a safety assessment, evaluate treatment, or understand further how the disease occurs.

They address the models' value and role in understanding the mechanisms underlying food allergy, establishing safety from unknown effects of novel foods, and evaluating novel therapeutics. One key point is that using more than one model might be necessary. They also emphasize that the models require attention to the experimental design and the factors influencing diseases, such as genetics, the types of allergens used, and environmental conditions, to name a few. They outline the current knowledge gaps and stress that it will be essential to work together with researchers doing complementary studies like in silico (computational) and in vitro models and with the aim to standardize and validate food allergy models.

The significance of this work is to help our partner at the Medical University of Vienna, led by Michelle Epstein, with the selection of the best food allergy model for testing a possible link between micro- and nanoplastics and food allergies and to help make the world safer for people suffering from food allergies.

Citation: Kazemi, S., Danisman, E., & Epstein, M. M. (2023). Animal models for the study of food allergies. Current Protocols3, e685. doi: 10.1002/cpz1.685. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cpz1.685)