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Ann Allergy. 1990 Apr;64(4):345-51.

Preliminary investigation on humoral and cellular immune responses to selected food proteins in patients with Crohn's disease.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratories, Nassau County Medical Center, State University of New York, Stony Brook.


Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disorder for which an immunologic etiology has been proposed. Food hypersensitivity may contribute to part of the pathogenesis of this disorder. In preliminary studies, we evaluated 11 Crohn's patients by history, skin testing (ST), total and specific(s) IgE and sIgE/sIgG4 levels to five food proteins [egg (E), milk (M), wheat (W), soy (S), and corn (C)] using a sensitive enzyme monoclonal antibody assay. Skin testing was also performed using grass and mold allergens. Lymphocyte concanavalin (Con A) mitogenic and antigenic responses to food proteins were also determined by tritiated thymidine incorporation. Mean sIgG4 values for four food proteins are listed below: (Table: see text). No patient reacted with elevated sIgE or sIgG4 to corn. All patients had low to negative sIgE levels to all foods and only three had increased total IgE. Three of eight were history and ST positive to M, E, and W. Six of eight had at least one positive ST to M, E, W, and S. All patients had negative sIgG4 to tested inhalants and two had elevated sIgE to grass pollen. Although mean lymphocyte Con A mitogenesis was significantly decreased in eight patients compared with controls (P less than .05), an increased food stimulatory response to milk protein was observed (P less than .05). Perhaps, decreased sIgE and cell-mediated mitogenic responsiveness may lead to an enhanced humoral IgG response. The increased sIgG4 humoral response to egg protein and cellular sensitivity to milk protein may indicate mucosal antigenic stimulation or leakage in patients with Crohn's disease in spite of negative sIgE levels.

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