JAPAN – Researchers led by Hiroshi Ohno at the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences in Japan have uncovered a link between gut bacteria and the effectiveness of milk-allergy oral immunotherapy.

Published in Allergology International, the study reveals how specific gut bacteria, particularly Bifidobacterium, may contribute to successful treatment outcomes, offering potential insights for improving oral immunotherapy for milk allergies.

Many children face allergic reactions to cow’s milk proteins, presenting challenges in dietary management.

Oral immunotherapy, involving controlled consumption of small milk amounts, has shown promise in managing milk allergies. However, sustaining tolerance post-treatment remains a challenge.

The study examined 32 children with milk allergies undergoing oral immunotherapy. Initial treatment occurred in a hospital setting due to potential allergic reactions.

Following completion of treatment at home, participants underwent a food challenge to assess milk tolerance. Remarkably, only seven children passed the challenge despite initially tolerating milk during treatment.

The research identified clinical factors such as eczema or asthma treatment and initial milk-protein antibody levels impacting treatment outcomes. Notably, the presence of Bifidobacterium in the gut was strongly associated with successful treatment, showcasing a potential role for gut bacteria in immune tolerance development.

Implications for future therapies

The study’s findings highlight the potential of probiotic supplements or interventions targeting gut bacteria to enhance oral immunotherapy efficacy.

Understanding the mechanisms behind gut bacteria’s influence on immune tolerance could pave the way for personalized and more effective treatment strategies for milk allergies.

Hiroshi Ohno emphasized the significance of gut environmental factors in immune tolerance against milk allergies.

The study sets the stage for further investigations into mechanistic insights and therapeutic advancements to optimize oral immunotherapy outcomes.

The study’s breakthrough in linking gut bacteria, particularly Bifidobacterium, to successful milk-allergy oral immunotherapy highlights the potential for innovative approaches to managing food allergies.

By addressing gut microbiota dynamics and immune response mechanisms, future therapies may offer improved outcomes and long-term tolerance for individuals with milk allergies.

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