High dietary fat intake induces a microbiota signature that promotes food allergy

Maryam Hussain, Germán Bonilla-Rosso, Cheong K.C. Kwong Chung, Lukas Bäriswyl, Maria Pena Rodriguez, Brian S. Kim, Philipp Engel, Mario Noti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background: Diet-induced obesity and food allergies increase in tandem, but a potential cause-and-effect relationship between these diseases of affluence remains to be tested. Objective: We sought to test the role of high dietary fat intake, diet-induced obesity, and associated changes in gut microbial community structure on food allergy pathogenesis. Methods: Mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) for 12 weeks before food allergen sensitization on an atopic dermatitis–like skin lesion, followed by intragastric allergen challenge to induce experimental food allergy. Germ-free animals were colonized with a signature HFD or lean microbiota for 8 weeks before induction of food allergy. Food-induced allergic responses were quantified by using a clinical allergy score, serum IgE levels, serum mouse mast cell protease 1 concentrations, and type 2 cytokine responses. Accumulation of intestinal mast cells was examined by using flow cytometry and chloroacetate esterase tissue staining. Changes in the gut microbial community structure were assessed by using high-throughput 16S ribosomal DNA gene sequencing. Results: HFD-induced obesity potentiates food-induced allergic responses associated with dysregulated intestinal effector mast cell responses, increased intestinal permeability, and gut dysbiosis. An HFD-associated microbiome was transmissible to germ-free mice, with the gut microbial community structure of recipients segregating according to the microbiota input source. Independent of an obese state, an HFD-associated gut microbiome was sufficient to confer enhanced susceptibility to food allergy. Conclusion: These findings identify HFD-induced microbial alterations as risk factors for experimental food allergy and uncouple a pathogenic role of an HFD-associated microbiome from obesity. Postdieting microbiome alterations caused by overindulgence of dietary fat might increase susceptibility to food allergy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-170.e8
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Food allergy
  • IgE
  • basophils
  • diet-induced obesity
  • dysbiosis
  • germ-free
  • high-fat diet
  • mast cells
  • microbiota


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