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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 Oct;120(4):916-23. Epub 2007 Jul 2.

Orally administered TGF-beta is biologically active in the intestinal mucosa and enhances oral tolerance.

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Department of Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Yamanashi, Yamanashi, Japan.



Epidemiologic studies suggest that TGF-beta in breast milk provides protection against allergic disease during infancy. However, it is unclear whether orally administered TGF-beta, such as TGF-beta in human milk, retains and exerts its activity in the intestinal mucosa and can affect immune response (tolerance) to dietary antigens.


We sought to determine whether orally administered TGF-beta is biologically active in intestinal mucosa and affects oral tolerance.


Activity of orally administered TGF-beta in the intestinal mucosa was evaluated by means of in vivo imaging with transgenic mice expressing a Smad-responsive reporter construct (SBE-luc mice), by means of immunohistochemical staining with anti-phosphorylated Smad2 antibody, and by means of real-time RT-PCR analysis of TGF-beta and Smad7 mRNA expression. The effects of orally administered TGF-beta on oral tolerance induction were assessed in mice tolerized by means of high-dose ovalbumin (OVA) feeding.


The oral administration of TGF-beta increased Smad-responsive reporter activity in the intestines of SBE-luc mice and induced Smad2 phosphorylation and TGF-beta and Smad7 mRNA expression in the intestines of BALB/c mice. Serum TGF-beta levels were also increased after oral administration of TGF-beta. BALB/c mice treated orally with OVA and TGF-beta showed augmented reduction of OVA-specific IgE and IgG1 antibodies, T-cell reactivity, and immediate-type skin reactions when compared with the mice treated orally with OVA alone.


Orally administered TGF-beta retains sufficient biologic activity in intestinal mucosa and enhances oral tolerance.


Oral administration of TGF-beta might become a potential strategy to prevent allergic diseases, such as food allergy.

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