Allergic Sensitization to Bovine β-Lactoglobulin: Comparison between Germ-Free and Conventional BALB/c MiceHazebrouck S.a · Przybylski-Nicaise L.a · Ah-Leung S.a · Adel-Patient K.a · Corthier G.b · Wal J.-M.a · Rabot S.b
aINRA, UR 496, Immuno-Allergie Alimentaire, IBiTecS-SPI, CEA de Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, and bINRA, UR 910, Ecologie et Physiologie du Système Digestif, Jouy-en-Josas, France
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Background: The ‘hygiene hypothesis’ suggests that high hygienic standards met in western countries lead to a lack of microbial exposure, thus promoting the development of atopy by preventing the proper maturation of the immune system. Germ-free animals are deprived of the immune stimulation that occurs during postnatal gut colonization by commensal bacteria. Germ-free mice could thereby provide an attractive model for studying the impact of gut microbiota on the development of Th2-mediated disorders such as allergy. Methods: Germ-free and conventional BALB/c mice were sensitized to β-lactoglobulin (BLG), a major cow’s milk allergen, by means of intraperitoneal injections in the presence of incomplete Freund’s adjuvant. Time courses of serum and fecal BLG-specific antibody responses were monitored and cytokine production was assayed in BLG-reactivated splenocytes. Results: Serum BLG-specific IgG1 and IgE concentrations were significantly higher in germ-free mice during the primary immune response and IgE production persisted longer in germ-free mice. Furthermore, secretion of BLG-specific IgA was evidenced only in feces from germ-free mice while, in contrast, fecal IgG1 concentrations were at least 3-fold higher in conventional mice than in germ-free mice. Production of IL-5, IL-10 and IFN-γ was 3-fold enhanced in BLG-reactivated splenocytes from germ-free mice. Conclusion: The absence of gut microbiota significantly affects the BLG-specific immune response in BALB/c mice, thus suggesting that this model might be of interest for further studies exploring the influence of gut colonization by different bacterial strains on the development of an allergic-type sensitization.
© 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel
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