Research Horizons


Examining IBS Through the Lens of Food Allergy

“Although a great deal remains to be elucidated, recent data support the hypothesis that common gastrointestinal ailments, such as IBS and functional abdominal pain, may instead be food-induced allergic disorders.”

— Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD

A commentary about the clinical implications of basic research published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that recent discoveries about how mast cells behave in mice could lead to a new line of treatments for people with abdominal pain after eating.

The commentary, published June 3, 2021, was written by Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD, Director, Division of Allergy and Immunology at Cincinnati Children’s. It discusses the implications of findings published in January, 2021, in Nature, by a team of scientists in Belgium.

Unlike classic systemic immune responses to dietary antigens, the study in Nature reported responses that were limited to mast cells in the colon.

“It is increasingly evident that food allergy is not a disease that involves only systemic IgE-mediated reactions. Rather, there is a spectrum of food-induced allergic responses, with IgE-mediated systemic anaphylaxis at one end and gastrointestinal tissue–specific allergic responses on the other end,” Rothenberg writes.

Read the NEJM article
Read related coverage in the New York Times

Learn more about allergy research at Cincinnati Children’s