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Pediatr Res. 2001 Mar;49(3):417-22.

Oral carrageenan induces antigen-dependent oral tolerance: prevention of anaphylaxis and induction of lymphocyte anergy in a murine model of food allergy.

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Department of Pediatrics, Division of Immunology and Allergy, University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland.


Immunosuppressive effects of carrageenan, a high-molecular-weight polysaccharide, on antibody and T cell responses have been previously demonstrated. However, its effect on anaphylaxis is unknown. Our objectives were to test carrageenan-mediated oral tolerance induction in young mice subsequently sensitized to a common cow's milk antigen. C3H/HeJ mice were fed or not lambda-carrageenan (0.5 g/L) and/or 0.01 mg/mL beta-lactoglobulin (BLG) for 5 d before oral sensitization with BLG and cholera toxin. Subsequently, the mice were challenged with BLG and symptom scores of anaphylaxis were recorded. Mesenteric lymph node cells, spleen cells, Peyer's patches cells, intraepithelial lymphocytes, and lamina propria lymphocytes were isolated and stimulated in vitro with BLG, IL-2, or left unstimulated. BLG-specific IgG, IgG(1), and IgG(2a) antibodies were measured. Pretreatment with carrageenan and BLG, but not pretreatment with either carrageenan or BLG alone or omission of pretreatment, diminished significantly the number of anaphylactic mice after BLG challenge (6.3 % versus 53 % in mice without pretreatment, p = 0.006). Mesenteric lymph nodes and spleen cells from pretreated mice proliferated less in presence of BLG or IL-2 than cells from sensitized control mice. Antigen-specific antibody production and passive cutaneous anaphylaxis was not suppressed by carrageenan and BLG pretreatment. In conclusion, carrageenan administered to young mice in conjunction with low doses of allergen before sensitization efficiently prevents anaphylaxis.

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