While both the incidence and general awareness of food allergies is increasing, the variety and clinical availability of therapeutics remain limited. Therefore, investigations into the potential factors contributing to the development of food allergy and the mechanisms of natural tolerance or induced desensitization are required. In addition, a detailed understanding of the pathophysiology of food allergies is needed to generate compelling, enduring, and safe treatment options. New findings regarding the contribution of barrier function, the effect of emollient interventions, mechanisms of allergen recognition, and the contributions of specific immune cell subsets through rodent models and human clinical studies provide novel insights. With the first approved treatment for peanut allergy, the clinical management of food allergy is evolving towards less intensive, alternative approaches involving fixed doses, lower maintenance dose targets, co-administration of biologicals, adjuvants, and tolerance-inducing formulations. The ultimate goal is to improve immunotherapy and develop precision-based medicine via risk phenotyping allowing optimal treatment for each food-allergic patient.
Background: Food allergy affects up to 8% of the pediatric population. Despite ongoing efforts, treatment options remain limited. Novel models of food allergy are needed to study response patterns downstream of IgE-crosslinking and evaluate drugs modifying acute events. Here, we report a novel human ex vivo model that displays acute, allergen-specific, IgE-mediated smooth muscle contractions using precision cut intestinal slices (PCIS). Methods: PCIS were generated using gut tissue samples from children who underwent clinically indicated surgery. Viability and metabolic activity were assessed from 0-24h. Distribution of relevant cell subsets was confirmed using single cell nuclear sequencing. PCIS were passively sensitized using plasma from peanut allergic donors or peanut-sensitized non-allergic donors, and exposed to various stimuli including serotonin, histamine, FcɛRI-crosslinker and food allergens. Smooth muscle contractions and mediator release functioned as readouts. A novel program designed to measure contractions was developed to quantify responses. The ability to demonstrate the impact of antihistamines and immunomodulation from peanut oral immunotherapy (OIT) was assessed. Results: PCIS viability was maintained for 24h. Cellular distribution confirmed the presence of key cell subsets including mast cells. The video analysis tool reliably quantified responses to different stimulatory conditions. Smooth muscle contractions were allergen-specific and reflected the clinical phenotype of the plasma donor. Tryptase measurement confirmed IgE-dependent mast cell-derived mediator release. Antihistamines suppressed histamine-induced contraction and plasma from successful peanut OIT suppressed peanut-specific PCIS contraction. Conclusion: PCIS represent a novel human tissue-based model to study acute, IgE-mediated food allergy and pharmaceutical impacts on allergic responses in the gut.