Emily C. McGowan, MD, PhD, an associate professor in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Division of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology, was awarded a 5-year, $3.9 million grant from the NIH to study the role of immunoglobulin G4 (IgG4) antibodies to milk proteins in eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). EoE is an allergic condition of the esophagus that affects patients of all ages and, when untreated, leads to esophageal fibrosis and difficulty swallowing. EoE is primarily triggered by foods, but how foods drive the inflammatory response in EoE is still unclear. Dr. McGowan’s group previously found that IgG4 binds to food proteins in the esophageal tissue of patients with active EoE, which is suggestive of immune complex formation. This grant will further this work to examine whether these IgG4-food complexes contribute to the inflammatory response in EoE. Ultimately, this work will provide novel insights into the mechanisms of food-induced inflammation in EoE and could lead to novel diagnostic assays and therapies.
Collaborators on the project include Bryan Sauer, MD, MHS; Shyam Raghavan, MD; Sarah Ewald, PhD; Larry Borish, MD; Thomas Platts-Mills, MD, PhD; and Judith Woodfolk, PhD.