Effects of transforming growth factor-beta and formula feeding on systemic immune responses to dietary β-lactoglobulin in allergy-prone rats

Irmeli Penttila

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48 Citations (Scopus)


Early nutritional events have the potential to affect health outcomes in later life including the development of allergy. Food allergy is usually the first manifestation of allergy. Breastfeeding has been associated with a protective effect against the development of allergy, but the evidence is contradictory and the mechanisms involved are not clear. We hypothesize that milk cytokines, such as transforming growth factor β (TGF-β), play a role in regulating immune responses to dietary antigens. Using a rat pup model of gastrostomy feeding, the immune response profile, at weaning and post-weaning, of allergy-prone Brown Norway rats fed formula supplementation with TGF-β was assessed. We show that feeding formula to allergy-prone rat pups results in increased total IgE immunoglobulin, β-lactoglobulin (BLG) IgG1 antibody, and mucosal mast cell activation, as measured by serum rat mast cell protease II (RMCPII) levels in the gut. Supplementation of formula with physiological levels of TGF-β down-regulated the BLG IgG1 response as well as total IgE and mucosal mast cell activation. Supplementation of formula also resulted in an increase in Th1 cytokines, interleukin (IL)-18, IL-12p40, IL-12p35, and interferon gamma (IFN-γ) and an increase in IL-10. In conclusion, TGF-β supplementation of formula moved the immune response profile of allergy prone (Th2 type) rat pups toward a Th1 profile in the suckling period. Importantly, this immune profile persisted after weaning when TGF-β was no longer present in the diet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-655
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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