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Management of food allergy: vitamins, fatty acids or probiotics?

Laitinen, Kirsi; Isolauri, Erika

European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology: December 2005 - Volume 17 - Issue 12 - p 1305-1311
Review in Depth

The dietary approach to allergic disease in infancy is evolving from passive allergen avoidance to active stimulation of the immature immune system, the aim of which is to support the establishment of tolerance. This may include probiotics providing maturational signals for the gut-associated lymphoid tissue and by balancing the generation of pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines in addition to their capacity to reduce the dietary antigen load by degrading and modifying macromolecules. Probiotics have also been shown to reverse the increased intestinal permeability characteristic of children with food allergy and to enhance specific IgA responses frequently defective in children with food allergy. The promotion of gut barrier functions by probiotics also includes the normalization of the gut microecology, alterations in which have been demonstrated in allergic individuals. Dietary lipids, especially long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, regulate immune function and may modify the adherence of microbes in the mucosa thereby contributing to host–microbe interactions. The properties of specific dietary compounds in optimal combinations and the joint effects of nutrients can be exploited in the development of specific prophylactic and therapeutic interventions. To meet these targets, rigorous scientific effort is required to elucidate how the food matrix and the dietary content impacts on the complex cascade of interrelated immunological mechanisms in food allergy.

Department of Paediatrics, University of Turku and Turku University Central Hospital, Turku, Finland

Correspondence to Erika Isolauri, Department of Paediatrics, University of Turku, 20520 Turku, Finland.

Tel: +358 2 3132433; fax:+358 2 3131460;


Sponsorship: A Nutrition, Allergy, Mucosal Immunology and Intestinal Microbiota (NAMI) research group report.

Received 30 June 2005 Accepted 31 August 2005

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.