Food allergies are a steadily increasing health and economic problem. Immunologically, food allergic reactions are caused by pathological, allergen-specific Th2 responses resulting in IgE-mediated mast cell degranulation and associated inflammatory reactions. Clinically, food allergies are characterized by local inflammation of the mouth mucosa, the face, the throat, the gastrointestinal tract, are frequently paralleled by skin reactions, and can result in life-threatening anaphylactic reactions. To better understand food allergies and establish novel treatment options, mouse models are indispensable. This review discusses the available mouse food allergy models, dividing them into four categories: (1) adjuvant-free mouse models, (2) mouse models relying on adjuvants to establish allergen-specific Th2 responses, (3) mouse models using genetically-modified mouse strains to allow for easier sensitization, and (4) humanized mouse models in which different immunodeficient mouse strains are reconstituted with human immune or stem cells to investigate humanized immune responses. While most of the available mouse models can reproducibly portray the immunological parameters of food allergy (Th2 immune responses, IgE production and mast cell activation/expansion), so far, the recreation of the clinical parameters has proven more difficult. Therefore, up to now none of the available mouse models can reproduce the complete human pathology.
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