Food & Agricultural Immunology

Food allergies are increasing in prevalence at a higher rate than can be explained by genetic factors, suggesting a role for as yet unidentified environmental factors. The intestinal epithelium forms the interface between the external environment and the mucosal immune system, and emerging data suggest that the interaction between intestinal epithelial cells and mucosal dendritic cells is of particular importance in determining the outcome of immune responses to dietary antigens. Exposure to food allergens through non-oral routes, in particular through the skin, is increasingly recognized as a potentially important factor in the increasing rate of food allergy. There are many open questions on the role of environmental factors, such as dietary factors and microbiota, in the development of food allergy, but data suggest that both have an important modulatory effect on the mucosal immune system.

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