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Immunology. 1989 Apr;66(4):595-9.

Priming of systemic and local delayed-type hypersensitivity responses by feeding low doses of ovalbumin to mice.

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  • 1Department of Bacteriology and Immunology, Western Infirmary, Glasgow, U.K.


We have examined the effects on both systemic and intestinal immunity of feeding different doses of ovalbumin (OVA) to mice. A single feed of doses of more than 1 mg OVA produced significant suppression of subsequent delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) and IgG antibody responses. Feeding 100 micrograms-1 mg OVA had no net effect on systemic immunity, but mice fed 10-50 micrograms OVA had consistently enhanced systemic DTH responses when immunized subsequently with OVA in adjuvant. Oral challenge of these mice with OVA produced alterations in mucosal architecture and in intra-epithelial lymphocyte counts, consistent with the presence of an intestinal DTH response. Similar changes were not found in mice fed tolerogenic doses of OVA. Although feeding low doses of OVA primed both systemic and intestinal DTH responses, this had no effect on serum IgG responses and very little systemic DTH could be revealed in OVA-fed mice without systemic challenge with OVA in adjuvant. We conclude that feeding certain low doses of protein antigens can induce priming of local and systemic DTH responses rather than the immune tolerance which is normally found. The development of clinical food hypersensitivities may be highly dependent on the dose of dietary antigen at the time of first encounter.

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