CD23+IgG1+ memory B cells are poised to switch to pathogenic IgE production in food allergy

Food allergy is caused by allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, but little is known about the B cell memory of persistent IgE responses. Here, we describe, in human pediatric peanut allergy, a population of CD23+IgG1+ memory B cells arising in type 2 immune responses that contain high-affinity peanut-specific clones and generate IgE-producing cells upon activation. The frequency of CD23+IgG1+ memory B cells correlated with circulating concentrations of IgE in children with peanut allergy. A corresponding population of "type 2-marked" IgG1+ memory B cells was identified in single-cell RNA sequencing experiments. These cells differentially expressed interleukin-4 (IL-4)- and IL-13-regulated genes, such as FCER2/CD23+, IL4R, and germline IGHE, and carried highly mutated B cell receptors (BCRs). In children with high concentrations of serum peanut-specific IgE, high-affinity B cells that bind the main peanut allergen Ara h 2 mapped to the population of "type 2-marked" IgG1+ memory B cells and included clones with convergent BCRs across different individuals. Our findings indicate that CD23+IgG1+ memory B cells transcribing germline IGHE are a unique memory population containing precursors of high-affinity pathogenic IgE-producing cells that are likely to be involved in the long-term persistence of peanut allergy.

Food-specific immunoglobulin A does not correlate with natural tolerance to peanut or egg allergens.

ImmunoglobulinA (IgA) is the predominant antibody isotype in the gut, where it regulates commensal flora and neutralizes toxins and pathogens. The function of food-specific IgA in the gut is unknown but is presumed to protect from food allergy. Specifically, it has been hypothesized that food-specific IgA binds ingested allergens and promotes tolerance by immune exclusion; however, the evidence to support this hypothesis is indirect and mixed. Although it is known that healthy adults have peanut-specific IgA in the gut, it is unclear whether children also have gut peanut-specific IgA. We found in a cohort of non–food-allergic infants (n = 112) that there is detectable stool peanut-specific IgA that is similar to adult quantities of gut peanut-specific IgA. To investigate whether this peanut-specific IgA is associated with peanut tolerance, we examined a separate cohort of atopic children (n = 441) and found that gut peanut-specific IgA does not predict protection from development of future peanut allergy in infants nor does it correlate with concurrent oral tolerance of peanut in older children. We observed higher plasma peanut-specific IgA in those with peanut allergy. Similarly, egg white–specific IgA was detectable in infant stools and did not predict egg tolerance or outgrowth of egg allergy. Bead-based epitope assay analysis of gut peanut-specific IgA revealed similar epitope specificity between children with peanut allergy and those without; however, gut peanut-specific IgA and plasma peanut-specific IgE had different epitope specificities. These findings call into question the presumed protective role of food-specific IgA in food allergy.