Developing Food Allergies Through Bone Marrow Transplant

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Scientists have confirmed the first case of food allergies being transferred from one person to another via a bone marrow transplant.

A 46-year-old U.K. man needed a bone marrow transplant and his sister was a match. Everything went smoothly but he experienced an allergic reaction to kiwi fruit after the procedure. He’d never had an issue eating kiwi before, but his sister was allergic to them.

food allergies

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Bone marrow is where most of your body’s blood cells are formed. In fact, a bone marrow transplant can even change your blood type after a few weeks or months living with donor cells.

Scientists examined the source of the allergic-to-kiwi cells in the man’s body, and sure enough they originated in the cells from his sister. The allergy was officially transferred through the bone marrow transplant, and the study authors say their method of testing the cells could be useful in further research.

Of course, it’s much better when this works in the opposite way. In 2013, a 1o-year-old boy was cured of his peanut allergy after undergoing a bone marrow transplant for leukemia. The donor did not have any known allergies, and the child no longer reacted to peanuts after the transplant.

Steven Weiss, MD, Ph.D., ACAAI fellow and study author, said food allergies are associated with the body’s abnormal production of high specific IgE levels.

“This case indicates that genetic modification during the early stages of immune cell development in bone marrow may play a large role in causing allergy.”

Healthy marrow = healthy cells = no more food allergies? You bet we’re interested to see what comes out of these discoveries …


Heather Laura Clarke, a contributing writer at Scratch or Sniff, lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with her high-school sweetheart husband, seven-year-old son, and five-year-old daughter. She writes for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the U.S., and blogs about her family life at Heather's Handmade Life. Follow her adventures on Twitter or Instagram.

1 Comment to Developing Food Allergies Through Bone Marrow Transplant

  1. Brenda

    My 50 yr old coworker gave his bone marrow to his brother, who has since passed away a few years ago. The brother became allergic to avocado (and his favorite food had been guacamole) after the transfer, and my coworker has been allergic since he was a child.

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