A mouse model of the LEAP study reveals a role for CTLA-4 in preventing peanut allergy induced by environmental peanut exposure

James W. Krempski, Jyoti K. Lama, Koji Iijima, Takao Kobayashi, Mayumi Matsunaga, Hirohito Kita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A human study, Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP), showed that early introduction of peanut products decreases the prevalence of peanut allergy among children. However, the immunologic mechanisms mediating the protective effects of consuming peanut products are not well understood. Objective: The objective was to develop a mouse model that simulates the LEAP study and investigate the underlying mechanisms for the study observations. Methods: Adult naive BALB/c mice were fed a commercial peanut butter product (Skippy) or buffer control and concomitantly exposed to peanut flour through the airway or skin to mimic environmental exposure. The animals were analyzed for anaphylactic reaction and by molecular and immunologic approaches. Results: After exposure to peanut flour through the airway or skin, naive mice developed peanut allergy, as demonstrated by acute and systemic anaphylaxis in response to challenge with peanut extract. Ingestion of Skippy, however, nearly abolished the increase in peanut-specific IgE and IgG and protected animals from developing anaphylaxis. Skippy-fed mice showed reduced numbers of T follicular helper (Tfh) cells and germinal center B cells in their draining lymph nodes, and single-cell RNA sequencing revealed a CD4+ T-cell population expressing cytotoxic T lymphocyte–associated protein 4 (CTLA-4) in these animals. Critically, blocking CTLA-4 with antibody increased levels of peanut-specific antibodies and reversed the protective effects of Skippy. Conclusion: Ingestion of a peanut product protects mice from peanut allergy induced by environmental exposure to peanuts, and the CTLA-4 pathway, which regulates Tfh cell responses, likely plays a pivotal role in this protection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-439.e3
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • CTLA-4
  • Follicular T cells
  • IgE
  • allergens
  • allergy
  • peanuts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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