Sensitivity to common food allergens such as dairy products and peanuts may be a previously unrecognized important cause of heart disease, a new study suggests, suggesting that overt food allergies People without cardiovascular disease are also at increased risk of cardiovascular death.
The increased risk may be comparable to or even greater than the risk posed by smoking, as well as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, the researchers report.
UVA Health scientists and their collaborators studied thousands of adults over time and found that those who produce antibodies in response to dairy products and other foods have an increased risk of cardiovascular-related death. did. This is true even when considering traditional risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The strongest association was with milk, but other allergens such as peanuts and shrimp were also significant.
This troubling finding shows for the first time that IgE antibodies to common foods are associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, researchers report. Although the study results do not conclusively prove that dietary antibodies are responsible for the increased risk, the study builds on previous research linking allergic inflammation to heart disease.
Approximately 15% of adults produce IgE antibodies in response to milk, peanuts, and other foods. Although these antibodies can cause severe food allergies in some people, many adults who develop these antibodies do not have an obvious food allergy. A new study finds that the strongest association with cardiovascular death is in people who have antibodies but continue to consume food regularly, and they do not have severe food allergies. It suggests.
“What we looked at here was the presence of IgE antibodies to food detected in blood samples,” said researcher Jeffrey Wilson, M.D., an expert in allergy and immunology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. said. “We do not believe that most of these subjects actually had overt food allergies. Therefore, our story is about silent immune responses to food. These reactions may be considered acute allergies to food. Although it may not be strong enough to cause a reaction, it still causes inflammation and over time can lead to problems such as heart disease.”
Unexpected food allergy findings
Members of the UVA team previously linked an unusual form of food allergy spread by dust mites to heart disease, prompting researchers to investigate the possibility that common food allergies may have negative effects on the heart. Ta. The allergy, first identified by UVA’s Thomas Platts Mills, M.D., is transmitted through the bite of a single star mite, which is found throughout much of the country.
This allergy, commonly but inaccurately called “red meat allergy,” sensitizes people to alpha-gal, a particular sugar found in mammalian meat. The symptomatic form of this allergy, known as “alpha-gal syndrome,” can cause hives, an upset stomach, and difficulty breathing 3 to 8 hours after an affected person eats beef or pork. In some cases, it can cause fatal anaphylaxis. (Chicken and fish do not contain sugar, so no reaction will occur.)
To see if other food allergies were affecting the heart, the team, including Wilson, Platts-Mills, UVA collaborators, and Corinne Keat, M.D., of the University of North Carolina, tested 5,374 participants in the study. We looked at data collected from people. Wake Forest site of the National Health and Inspection Survey (NHANES) and Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Of those, 285 died from cardiovascular disease.
Researchers found that among NHANES participants, IgE antibodies to at least one food were associated with a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular death. This is especially true for people who are sensitive to milk, and this result also held true for his MESA participants. Additional analyzes also identified peanut and shrimp sensitization as significant risk factors for cardiovascular death in people who regularly consume them.
“We previously looked at the link between allergic antibodies to the red meat allergen alpha-gal and heart disease,” Wilson explained. “While this finding is supported by a large study in Australia, the current paper suggests that the association between allergic antibodies to food allergens and heart disease is not limited to alpha-gal. I mean, this is an amazing discovery. On the other hand, I don’t know that anyone has looked into it before.”
allergies and heart
Although this is the first time that allergic antibodies to common foods have been linked to mortality from cardiovascular disease, other allergy conditions, such as asthma, eczema, and the itchy rash known as atopic dermatitis, have long been associated with cardiovascular disease. had been identified as a risk factor for the disease.
Researchers suspect that allergic antibodies to foods may affect the heart by triggering the activation of special cells called mast cells. Mast cells in the skin and intestines are known to contribute to classic allergic reactions, but they are also present in the blood vessels and heart tissue of the heart. Researchers believe that sustained activation of mast cells can cause inflammation and contribute to the buildup of harmful plaque that can lead to heart attacks and other heart damage.
But scientists stress that this is not yet certain. Other genetic or environmental factors may be involved. Cardiovascular disease may even increase your risk of food sensitization. In other words, heart disease may increase the risk of food allergies, not the other way around, but the new results suggest that this is unlikely.
The researchers call for further research to better understand the implications of their findings before recommending changes to how doctors treat or manage food allergies.
This study raises the possibility that in the future, blood tests could help provide personalized information about heart-healthy diets. There is still much work to do to understand these findings before they can be recommended. ”
Jeffrey Wilson, Allergy and Immunology Specialist, University of Virginia School of Medicine
Publication of survey results
The researchers published their results in a leading allergy journal. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The research team consisted of Keet, Emily McGowan, David Jacobs, Wendy Post, Nathan Richards, Lisa Workman, Platts Mills, Ani Manichakul and Wilson. Wilson and Platts Mills are supported by Thermo Fisher/Fadia. A complete list of author disclosures is included in the paper.
This research was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, grants 5U01AI125290, R37-AI20565, and R21AI151497. and received the AAAAI Foundation Faculty Development Award. A list of financial supporters for the MESA exam is available in the paper.
Keet, C. other. (2023) IgE to common food allergens is associated with cardiovascular mortality in the National Health and Laboratory Survey and the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2023.09.038.