Mixing Peanuts With Cranberry Juice Could Block Peanut Allergies | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: May 5, 2014

Mixing Peanuts With Cranberry Juice Could Block Peanut Allergies

Immunotherapy: Researchers combined peanut flour with polyphenol-rich foods to mute immune responses in allergic mice
Department: Science & Technology | Collection: Life Sciences
News Channels: Biological SCENE
Keywords: peanut allergy, polyphenols, immunotherapy, food allergy, mast cells
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Mixed Up
Researchers mixed peanut flour (LR12, top left) with juices and extracts from a series of polyphenol-rich foods, such as cranberries. They then freeze dried the mixtures to produce these colorful, treated flours.
Credit: J. Agric. Food Chem.
Photograph of polyphenol-treated peanut flours.
 
Mixed Up
Researchers mixed peanut flour (LR12, top left) with juices and extracts from a series of polyphenol-rich foods, such as cranberries. They then freeze dried the mixtures to produce these colorful, treated flours.
Credit: J. Agric. Food Chem.

Peanut allergies strike fear in parents, leading airlines to stop handing out peanut snacks and principals to institute school-wide bans on the legumes. But some researchers hope the war on peanuts can end in a truce. One team has combined peanut flour with polyphenol-rich foods to create an edible product that lessens allergic reactions in mice. Such a product might one day help people with allergies develop a tolerance for peanuts (J. Agric. Food Chem. 2014, DOI: 10.1021/jf405773b).

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Troubling Legume
With peanut allergies on the rise, researchers want to find a way to build up patients’ tolerance to peanut proteins.
Credit: Shutterstock
Photograph of peanuts.
 
Troubling Legume
With peanut allergies on the rise, researchers want to find a way to build up patients’ tolerance to peanut proteins.
Credit: Shutterstock

The culprits behind these troubling allergic reactions are certain peanut proteins. In people with peanut allergies, mast cells and basophils, two types of immune cells, display versions of immunoglobulin E (IgE) that bind to specific bits of the proteins. This sets off a chain reaction that releases a host of inflammatory molecules, triggering the shortness of breath, swelling, and other potentially life-threatening symptoms of an allergic reaction.

One promising approach to dampening peanut allergies is giving allergic individuals small oral doses of peanut flour in hopes that they’ll build up a tolerance. Unfortunately, oral immunotherapy itself can unleash an allergic response. Some researchers have reported that eating foods rich in polyphenols alongside peanuts can mute this response, possibly because the polyphenols bind to and hide the parts of the peanut proteins that IgE recognizes (Clin. Exp. Allergy 2011, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2011.03773.x). Mary Ann Lila of North Carolina State University hypothesized that a substance combining peanut flour and polyphenols could help people develop peanut tolerance without triggering an allergic response.

To make such a combination, Lila and her team immersed peanut flour in solutions containing juices or extracts from polyphenol-rich foods, such as elderberry, blackcurrant, cranberry, green tea, cinnamon, grapes, and chokeberry. Then they freeze-dried the suspensions, leaving behind a series of colorful powders. To determine how the polyphenols bound the peanut proteins, the researchers compared infrared spectra of the protein regions recognized by IgE before and after polyphenol enrichment. The team observed large changes in the combination with cranberry juice, so they decided to further test the cranberry-peanut flour.

To see whether IgE still recognized the peanut proteins, the researchers added cranberry-peanut flour to cell cultures containing basophils primed to release molecules that would trigger an immune response. As hoped, the modified peanut flour triggered fewer releases than the unmodified flour.

In another experiment, the group fed cranberry-peanut flour to mice that had been sensitized to peanuts. These mice had 75% lower levels of a biomarker for the release of molecules that start an allergic reaction than in animals fed regular peanut flour, suggesting that the treatment made the peanut flour more hypoallergenic.

Although the results are exciting, says J. Andrew Bird of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, “it’s very early to make broad leaps.” He thinks the big test will be determining the flour’s effects in patients in the clinic. Lila says her team first is going to extend their approach to different food allergies, creating hypoallergenic food combinations for eggs and milk.

 
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ISSN 0009-2347
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Comments
Christina (May 5, 2014 3:19 PM)
"In another experiment, the group fed cranberry-peanut flour to mice that had been sensitized to peanuts."

How is peanut sensitivity induced in the lab?
BukaHobbit (May 6, 2014 10:00 AM)
Well, HR was called in for the mice and a series of sensitivity classes were scheduled...

Well, you know the rest.
Christine Rogers (May 13, 2014 12:19 AM)
I have a severe peanut allergy as does a very good friend. We have both found that if we immediately ingest something very acidic, ie tomato, lemon, orange etc this will mute the reaction. Because of this I am able to use a rescue inhaler, benadryl and one of these acid/vitamin C rich foods to halt the reaction and not have to resort to using the Epi Pen. I don't know if this works for everyone but it works for both my friend and myself. I'm 35 and have an adult onset severe allergy (even the smell will cause anaphylaxis or the touch). I've had this for about 4 years. My friend is the same age and had hers from birth and has anaphylaxis from eating anything with a trace of peanut.
syria martinez (May 21, 2014 8:55 PM)
Christine Roger, It looks so interesting for me to know about how you try with something acid your peanut allergy. What is your IgE level allergy, and what about your friend's?
Tim (May 13, 2014 10:20 AM)
As a life-long peanut allergy sufferer, this is welcome news. I hope clinical trials prove fruitful and I like that they are beginning with other allergens, like milk and eggs, before moving on to the potentially more-problematic peanut.

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