Differences in antigen-specific T-cell responses between infants with atopic dermatitis with and without cow's milk allergy: Relevance of TH2 cytokines

Rogier P. Schade, Adrie G. Van Ieperen-Van Dijk, Frank C. Van Reijsen, Coraline Versluis, Jan L.L. Kimpen, Edward F. Knol, Carla A.F.M. Bruijnzeel-Koomen, Els Van Hoffen

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Background: Cow's milk is the most important food antigen in infancy and may lead to acute cutaneous symptoms and atopic dermatitis (AD). The role of circulating allergen-specific T cells in the pathogenesis of food-allergic skin symptoms is still under investigation. Objective: This study was designed to analyze the cow's milk protein (CMP)-specific T-cell response at the clonal level in infants with AD and cow's milk allergy (CMA) in comparison with infants with AD without CMA. Method: We used an antigen-specific culturing system with autologous B cells as antigen-presenting cells to establish CMP-specific T-cell clones derived from PBMCs in infants with AD. T-cell reactivity, measured by using a lymphocyte stimulation test, and cytokine production, measured by using ELISA, was compared between infants with AD with and without CMA. Result: Both infants with and without allergy to cow's milk had a CMP-specific T helper cell response directed against the major proteins in milk. Analysis of antigen-specific cytokine production showed that this response was T(H)2 skewed in infants with CMA, with production of high levels of IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13. In contrast, infants without CMA had a T(H)1-skewed response, with high levels of IFN-γ and low levels of IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13. Conclusion: These data confirm for the first time at the clonal level that food allergy in infants with AD is associated with production of T(H)2 cytokines by circulating antigen-specific CD4+ T cells, whereas tolerance to food antigens is associated with low levels of these cytokines. This suggests a key role for the T helper cell-derived T(H)2 cytokines in food allergy-related skin symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22908
Pages (from-to)1155-1162
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of allergy and clinical immunology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Casein
  • Cow's milk
  • Cytokine
  • Food allergy
  • Human
  • IL-4
  • Infants
  • T(H)1/T(H)2 cells
  • T-cell clone

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