Researchers Discover Cause of Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Researchers report that they have discovered the cause of eosinophilic eophagitis (EoE), a hard-to-treat food allergy. In EoE, large numbers of white blood cells, known as eosinophils, accumulate in the lining of the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach), causing chronic inflammation. Led by a team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, investigators have found a new genetic and molecular pathway in the esophagus. This discovery, reported online today in Nature Genetics, opens the door to new therapies for EoE, which has been diagnosed in a growing number of children and adults over the past decade.

The study found that EoE is triggered by the interplay between epithelial cells, which help form the lining of the esophagus, and a gene called CAPN14. When the epithelial cells are exposed to an immune hormone called interleukin 13 (IL-13), which is known to play a role in EoE, they cause a dramatic increase in CAPN14. CAPN14 encodes an enzyme called calpain14, which is also part of the disease process. Because drugs can target calpain 14 and modify its activity, the study opens up new therapeutic strategies for researchers to explore.

drmarkrothenberg125x156“In a nutshell, we have used cutting-edge genomic analysis of patient DNA, as well as gene and protein analysis, to explain why people develop EoE,” says Marc E. Rothenberg, MD, senior investigator on the study. “This is a major breakthrough for this condition … Our results are immediately applicable to EoE and have broad implications for understanding eosinophilic disorders as well as allergies in general.” The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with additional support from other organizations, including FARE.

13 thoughts on “Researchers Discover Cause of Eosinophilic Esophagitis

    • Very exciting.I have dealt with severe allergies & Eosinophilic Esophagitis since I was 2 weeks old.That makes it 53 years.Not much has changed with dealing with them.I was a guinea pig doe Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center,since I was 2 weeks old.I went through 5 series of Immunology Shots.It made my allergies even worse.Pepcid is all they could do for the EoE. Thankfully , my son has the same problem.I sure hope they have medicines soon to treat this.

  1. Does this mean someone with nuts allergy might some day soon not have to worry about anaphylactic attach if they take some medicine before eating at a place where the food might be contaminated accidentally ?

  2. My voice has gotten deeper as time goes on (I’m female) and my hearing is distorted in one of my ears. Plus I have a constant dry cough. I’ve always been told that all of this is because of my allergies. Could all of these symptoms be related to EoE?

  3. Thank You so much for your articles. I’m sure my FB friends think I’m nuts by reposting however my youngest child is 8 and has suffered from EoE and up to 40 food allergies since she was 6 months.
    Her condition has gotten better over time; however, it was complicated extreme eczema conditions and asthma. Not to mention she feels the social isolation from school/camp/play dates/etc.

    The research you fund, articles you publish, I follow and appreciate. One day, I and my daughters hope to give back to your organization.

  4. Thank you, FARE, for funding such amazing research. My 5 year old son has EoE. It seems like such a little-known condition and I am so pleased to see the amazing work being done to learn more and help our kids.

  5. Very exciting news! As a mom of a child with EoE and multiple allergies, this is very good news! Next I’d like to see them find the cause of eosinophilic colitis! I am so hopeful that effective treatments and cures will come from this! Thanks to God for the folks who are researching these things! Thanks to God for FARE!

  6. I am allergic to a few foods, dust, etc. Using anthistamine, nasal spray,but my nose still closed from the inflamation then i cant smell anymore:-(… please help! I tried everything!

  7. My Great Grand Son was born with EE, he has allergy’s to everything that are so severe, a child can drink milk and touch him without washing his hands and Grayson will end up in the hospital.Is there a possibility for him to be treated with more advanced treatment? They are a military family in Nofolk Vr. One of the Dr. At the base diagnosed Grayson with EE.

  8. I read this with interest. “EoE is triggered by the interplay between epithelial cells, which help form the lining of the esophagus, and a gene called CAPN14. When the epithelial cells are exposed to an immune hormone called interleukin 13 (IL-13), which is known to play a role in EoE, they cause a dramatic increase in CAPN14. CAPN14 encodes an enzyme called calpain14, which is also part of the disease process.” Of note here to me is not the potential for a pharmaceutical treatment, but rather the identification of a food related cause. Look at this research article(http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf802059w?journalCode=jafcau) investigating the immune response to genetically modified corn (which includes the Bt toxin). This article found that IL-13 increased with feeding of this MON810 corn. IL-13 is a trigger of EoE because it causes the dramatic increase in CAPN14. Interestingly, the use of GMO grains in human food and EoE have both increased dramatically in the recent past. This new EoE research, and the immune response to GM corn research demand more investigation. Perhaps the true “cause” can be identified.

  9. Pingback: 2014-07-18 Fabulous Friday Finds | surviving the food allergy apocalypse

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