Skin Biomarkers Predict the Development of Food Allergy in Infants


Food allergies often manifest in early childhood, can be severe and life disruptive, and, in rare cases, can result in anaphylactic reactions that prove fatal. For this reason, finding biomarkers that predict the future onset of food allergies is essential to prevention and treatment.

A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology sought to find biomarkers on the outer layer of the epidermis that could predict the future onset of food allergy.

The researchers collected skin tape strips from the forearms of 129 newborns at age 2 months before they showed any clinical signs of food allergy (FA) or atopic dermatitis (AD). These same children were clinically monitored until the age of 2 years to confirm the presence of FA and AD.

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The strips were analyzed for specific lipids using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and cytokine determination using assays.

Overall, 9 of 129 infants (7.0%) developed FA alone and 9 of 129 infants (7.0%) developed FA together with AD. In the epidermises of children that would go on to develop FA with or without AD, absolute amounts of unsaturated ceramides and their relative percentages within the molecular group were increased compared with the amounts and percentages in healthy children. The children who developed AD alone had normal levels of these molecules.

Levels of IL-33 — a compound secreted by immune system cells — were higher in those infants with future FA but not in those with future AD, whereas thymic stromal lymphopoietin — known for its role in promoting immune responses — was higher in those with future AD but not in those with future FA.

Logistic regression analysis revealed very strong FA predicting power for the combination of dysregulated lipids and cytokines. As such, the researchers concluded that noninvasive skin tape strip analysis performed at age 2 months can identify infants at risk of developing food allergy in the future.

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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of

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