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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Dec 24;325(4):1258-63.

Rapid in vivo transport of proteins from digested allergen across pre-sensitized gut.

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  • 1Programmes of Gastrointestinal Health and Function, Institute of Food Research, Norwich, UK.


Although the route of sensitization to food allergens is still the subject of debate, it is generally accepted the gut immune system plays a pivotal role. However, hitherto the transport of allergens across the normal, pre-sensitized gut epithelium remained largely unknown. Our aim was to identify the route through which protein bodies and soluble proteins from digested peanuts penetrated the pre-sensitized gut epithelium in vivo and the specific cell types involved in the transport. Digestion of peanuts released a large number of protein bodies that are exclusively transported across the epithelium by specialized antigen-sampling M cells and delivered to the lymphoid tissue of Peyer's patch. Intracellular transport of soluble protein also occurred almost exclusively via M cells and it was negligible across absorptive enterocytes. We hypothesize that these conditions which are known to favour strongly the induction of immune responses rather than oral tolerance may play a significant role in the genesis of allergic reactions.

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