Background: Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children. The standard therapy for egg allergy is strict avoidance. Yet, there is considerable clinical and scientific interest in primary or secondary prevention. A major drawback of oral tolerance (OT) induction protocols, however, is the possibility of severe side effects; thus, we have formulated a hypoallergenic egg product and demonstrate its in vivo capacity to modulate the immune system in the current study. Methods: Hydrolyzed egg (HE) was produced using a combination of moderate heat treatment and enzymatic hydrolysis. The capacity of HE to induce OT was tested in experimental models and compared to whole egg (WE). Delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses, immune markers and potential early markers of OT were analyzed. Results: Allergic responses, assessed by both DTH responses upon OVA challenge and serum OVA-specific IgE and IgG1, were decreased after treatment with HE and WE compared to the control group. Additionally, feeding WE and HE significantly decreased Th2 cytokine induction and cell proliferation, induced the activation of effector CD4+ T cells and increased numbers and percentages of ICOS+CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ cells. Furthermore, DO11.10 mouse experiments showed that HE contains other peptides than the OVA323-339 peptide that are able to induce tolerance to OVA. Conclusions: Altogether, results showed that HE induces OT in mice in a dose-dependent manner. Due to its low allergenicity compared to WE, it may represent a safer alternative for OT induction in at-risk subjects or oral immunotherapy in allergic patients.

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