To evaluate the role of immunologic mechanisms in one specific syndrome of food intolerance in infants, food protein-induced enterocolitis, we measured class-specific serum antibodies to three food proteins, ovalbumin, soy, and cow milk, prior to diagnostic food challenges in 18 infants suspected to have this syndrome. Infants with positive challenge reactions to egg, soy, or cow milk had 5–10 times higher levels of IgA antibody directed against that food than did the infants with negative challenges. Levels of IgG antibody to soy and egg were also significantly higher (greater than 10-fold) in infants with positive challenge responses. There was no significant difference in levels of IgM food antibodies between the two groups. IgA anti-soy antibody levels rose in all 12 infants tested 2–10 weeks after a single soy feeding (challenge). However, IgM anti-soy antibody increased in the five infants who had a negative response to the challenge feeding and decreased in those seven with a positive response. The difference between the two groups was statistically significant (P > 0.01). Some correlation existed (r = −0.68) between the increase in IgA anti-soy antibody and the decrease in IgM anti-soy antibody for infants with positive soy challenges. Although a pathogenic role for these antibodies is not proven, the findings suggest an altered immunologic response to ingestion of food antigens in infants with food protein-induced enterocolitis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health