The rising incidence of food allergy in children underscores the importance of environmental exposures; however, genetic factors play a major role. How the environment and genetics interact to cause food allergy remains unclear. The landmark Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) clinical trial established that early peanut introduction protects high-risk infants, consistent with the tolerizing effects of gut exposure. In this issue of the JCI, Kanchan et al. leveraged the LEAP trial data to examine molecular genetic mechanisms of early sensitization. A previously identified HLA risk allele for peanut allergy (DQA1*01:02) was associated with peanut-specific IgG4 levels in consumers. Notably, IgG4 antibodies likely provide protection by reducing the binding of allergen to IgE. The association of the same allele with peanut allergy in avoiders while potentially conferring protection in consumers reinforces the need to integrate genetic information toward a personalized therapeutic strategy for the best outcome in addressing food allergies.
Monali Manohar, Kari Christine Nadeau, Maya Kasowski