Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2009;148(1):65-72. doi: 10.1159/000151507. Epub 2008 Aug 21.

Allergic sensitization to bovine beta-lactoglobulin: comparison between germ-free and conventional BALB/c mice.

Author information

INRA, UR 496, Immuno-Allergie Alimentaire, IBiTecS-SPI, CEA de Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.



The 'hygiene hypothesis' suggests that high hygienic standards met in western countries lead to a lack of microbial exposure, thus promoting the development of atopy by preventing the proper maturation of the immune system. Germ-free animals are deprived of the immune stimulation that occurs during postnatal gut colonization by commensal bacteria. Germ-free mice could thereby provide an attractive model for studying the impact of gut microbiota on the development of Th2-mediated disorders such as allergy.


Germ-free and conventional BALB/c mice were sensitized to beta-lactoglobulin (BLG), a major cow's milk allergen, by means of intraperitoneal injections in the presence of incomplete Freund's adjuvant. Time courses of serum and fecal BLG-specific antibody responses were monitored and cytokine production was assayed in BLG-reactivated splenocytes.


Serum BLG-specific IgG1 and IgE concentrations were significantly higher in germ-free mice during the primary immune response and IgE production persisted longer in germ-free mice. Furthermore, secretion of BLG-specific IgA was evidenced only in feces from germ-free mice while, in contrast, fecal IgG1 concentrations were at least 3-fold higher in conventional mice than in germ-free mice. Production of IL-5, IL-10 and IFN-gamma was 3-fold enhanced in BLG-reactivated splenocytes from germ-free mice.


The absence of gut microbiota significantly affects the BLG-specific immune response in BALB/c mice, thus suggesting that this model might be of interest for further studies exploring the influence of gut colonization by different bacterial strains on the development of an allergic-type sensitization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for S. Karger AG, Basel, Switzerland
    Loading ...
    Support Center