Eosinophillic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the esophagus triggered by allergic hypersensitivity to certain foods combined with an over-accumulation of white blood cells, called eosinophils, in the esophagus.

People with EoE can experience an array of distressing physical symptoms including reflux-like symptoms, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, tissue scarring, fibrosis, strictures and others.

What Causes EoE?

New research has identified a genetic and molecular pathway in the esophagus which causes EoE. There are cells specific to the esophageal epithelial tissue which hold a molecular pathway for EoE. They use a gene called CAPN14.

How Is EoE Treated?

Now that the gene and the enzymes which cause EoE have been identified, new treatment strategies can be developed.

“In a nutshell, we have used cutting edge genomic analysis of patient DNA as well as gene and protein analysis to explain why people develop EoE,” Dr. Rothenberg said. “This is a major breakthrough for this condition and gives us a new way to develop therapeutic strategies… Our results are immediately applicable to EoE and have broad implications for understanding eosinophilic disorders as well as allergies in general.”

This study links allergic responses with an esophageal specific pathway. Researchers now know why people develop tissue specific allergic responses in the tissue of the throat.

“We have uncovered that this can be explained by the interplay of genetic susceptibility elements in allergic sensitization pathways with the newly discovered esophageal specific pathway. Thus, two steps are necessary, one dictated by allergy and one dictated by CPN14 in the esophagus.”

This process produces an enzyme that can be inhibited by drugs so it may be possible to control this kind of allergic food response.

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