Research from Australia found that patients with food allergies have a lower frequency of T-cells compared to those who are non-allergic. T-cells are regulatory cells that help determine immune responses.
The researchers, led by Thanh D Dang, PhD of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Australia, also found that those with food sensitivities recover T-cells faster than those with an allergy, suggesting that T-cell counts and recovery times could be a determining factor in allergy vs sensitivity.
Researchers included children with egg or peanut allergies as well as children with sensitivities to either and children with no allergy or sensitivity.
The study group included 37 children with egg or peanut allergy, 35 with sensitization to either, and 15 with no allergy or sensitivity. An oral food challenge was followed by blood analysis an hour after the challenge and then two days and six days afterwards.
The results showed that T-reg frequencies dropped slightly after exposure for both sensitive and allergic children, being much lower for allergic patients. The return to normal levels took about the same time for each, however, with non-allergic patients having little drop after the challenge.