Yui-Hsi Wang, PhD.

Yui-Hsi Wang, PhD

IL-9-producing mucosal mast cells (MMC9 cells) play a key role in amplifying allergic response to ingested food, according to new research.

The study, led by Yui-Hsi Wang, PhD, a researcher in the Division of Allergy and Immunology, was published Sept. 22, 2015 in the journal Immunity. The findings, based on data from mouse models, eventually could lead to a blood test to identify children at highest risk of severe food allergies.

The authors say MMC9 cells produce large amounts of interlukin 9 (IL-9), which amplifies anaphylactic shock response. Prior to this study, the key cellular source of IL-9 was unknown.

“Our study suggests that although you need to have some level of IgE to trigger a food allergy response, you also have to produce MMC9 cells to get a severe response and anaphylaxis,” Wang says. “Without these cells you will not get severe food allergies.”