Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology

, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 55–73 | Cite as

Immunotherapy of Food Allergy: a Comprehensive Review

  • Christine Y. Y. Wai
  • Nicki Y. H. Leung
  • Patrick S. C. LeungEmail author
  • Ka Hou ChuEmail author


Food allergy imposes a severe global health burden, and thus, there is a dire need for safe and effective treatments. Allergen-specific immunotherapy (AIT) is currently the only approach to restore immune tolerance through administrating increasing doses of allergen extracts. Unfortunately, the development of AIT for food allergies has been impeded by the frequent anaphylactic side effects during the course of treatment. The emergence of component-resolved diagnosis has greatly improved our ability to identify causative allergens and revolutionized the design of AIT. Molecular features such as IgE-binding epitopes and T cell epitopes have been elucidated in most major food allergens, inspiring the use of multiple strategies to manipulate the allergens and design safer alternatives to AIT. Although these allergen-modifying approaches are currently restricted to preclinical characterization and animal studies, the employment of these strategies has certainly paved the way for improving the safety of existing AIT. A safe and effective AIT for food allergy is not far beyond reach.


Hypoallergen T cell epitope Mimotope Conjugated allergens Omalizumab 



Allergen-specific immunotherapy


Antigen-presenting cells


Bovine serum albumin


Dendritic cells


Epicutaneous immunotherapy


Food Allergy Specific Immunotherapy


Inducible Treg


Latency-associated protein


Major histocompatibility complex


Naturally occurring Treg




Oral immunotherapy







rMet e 1

Recombinant Met e 1


Sublingual immunotherapy


Skin prick test


T cell lines


Type II T helper


Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome



The authors would like to thank Mr. Yaoyu Gong for his contribution to this review. The work on shellfish allergy of the authors is supported by a grant from the Health and Medical Research Fund (02130206), HKSAR, China. CYY Wai is currently funded by an AXA Postdoctoral Fellowship (AXA Research Fund).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Simon F.S. Li Marine Science Laboratory, School of Life SciencesThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  2. 2.Department of PaediatricsThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  3. 3.Division of Rheumatology/Allergy, School of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  4. 4.Genome and Biomedical Sciences FacilityDavisUSA

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