Major Areas of Research
- Identification of genetic disorders associated with the development of food allergy and related conditions
- Investigation of the key cellular and biochemical pathways critical in the development of tolerance to food antigens using human and murine models
- Development of novel therapies for food allergy
Food allergy has become a major public health problem in the United States. There is no cure, and little is known regarding the factors that account for the rising prevalence and severity of this disease. The overall goal of the Food Allergy Research Section is to understand the key genetic, immunologic, and biochemical pathways that lead to the development of food allergy and how they can be manipulated for therapeutic benefit. We aim to achieve this goal using a multifaceted approach with studies involving both patients and mouse models of their diseases. Our current efforts are focused on the following three main areas.
Genetic diseases associated with the development of food allergy and other allergic conditions
We have recently shown that patients with Loeys-Dietz syndrome (LDS), an autosomal dominant disorder caused by mutations in genes encoding the receptor for TGFβ, exhibit a high prevalence of food allergy, asthma, eosinophilic esophagitis, and other allergic conditions. By studying LDS and other genetic disorders associated with defects in genes required for TGFβ signaling (e.g.,SMAD3, TGFB2, SKI), we can achieve greater insight into the key cellular and signaling pathways that regulate allergic inflammation. This information may have tremendous therapeutic implications not only for patients with these rare genetic conditions but also for the general population of patients who suffer from allergic diseases. Efforts are also ongoing to identify additional cases of severe food allergy inherited in a familial/syndromic fashion that will allow us to identify novel genes and pathways that drive the development of this and related disorders.
Environmental and immunologic factors that influence the development and severity of food allergy
Compelling evidence supports a role for both genetic and environmental factors in the development of food allergy, and we are interested in understanding how these two variables may interact in the pathogenesis of this disease. Our lab is also studying why only some patients who have IgE to foods experience an allergic reaction when they eat the food, and we are working to identify immunologic markers that can predict the severity and persistence of food allergy.
Novel therapies for the prevention and treatment of food allergy
A major goal of the Food Allergy Research Section is to apply the information learned from the studies described above toward devising new prevention and treatment strategies for patients with food allergy. By achieving a greater understanding of the key environmental, immunologic, and biochemical pathways that drive the development of food allergy, we will be able to develop novel interventions that are based on a refined understanding of disease pathogenesis.
Dr. Guerrerio graduated with a B.S. degree in biology from the University of Iowa and entered the Medical Scientist Training Program at Johns Hopkins University, where she completed medical school and a Ph.D. in human genetics. She also did her residency in pediatrics and fellowship in allergy and immunology at Johns Hopkins, and subsequently joined the faculty. In 2014, Dr. Guerrerio was recruited to the NIAID intramural research program as Chief of the Food Allergy Research Unit. She received tenure in 2019 and was named Chief of the Laboratory of Allergic Diseases in 2020. Dr. Guerrerio was the recipient of the ARTrust Faculty Development Award from the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology in 2011. She received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the National Science Foundation’s highest honor for science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research career, in 2017.
Jhamnani RD, Levin S, Rasooly M, Stone KD, Milner JD, Nelson C, DiMaggio T, Jones N, Guerrerio AL, Frischmeyer-Guerrerio PA. Impact of food allergy on the growth of children with moderate-severe atopic dermatitis. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2018; 141(4): 1526-1529. PMID: 29378286
Frischmeyer-Guerrerio PA, Masilamani M, Gu W, Brittain E, Wood R, Kim J, Nadeau K, Jarvinen K, Grishin A, Lindblad R, Sampson HA. Mechanistic correlates of clinical responses to omalizumab in the setting of oral immunotherapy for milk allergy. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2017; 140(4): 1043-1053. PMID: 28414061
Weissler K, Rasooly M, DiMaggio T, Bolan H, Cantave D, Martino D, Neeland MR, Tang MK, Dang TD, Allen KJ, Frischmeyer-Guerrerio PA. Identification and analysis of peanut-specific T effector and T regulatory cells in children allergic and tolerant to peanut. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2018; 141(5): 1699-1710. PMID: 29454004
Gorelik M, Narisety SD, Guerrerio AL, Chichester K, Keet CA, Bieneman AP, Hamilton RG, Wood RA, Schroeder JT, Frischmeyer-Guerrerio PA. Suppression of the immunologic response to peanut during immunotherapy is often transient. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2015; 135(5): 1283-1292. PMID: 25542883
Frischmeyer-Guerrerio PA, Guerrerio AL, Oswald G, Chichester K, Meyers L, Halushka MK, Oliva-Hemker M, Wood RA, Dietz HC. TGFβ receptor mutations impose a strong predisposition for human allergic disease. Science Translational Medicine. 2013; 5(195): 195ra94. PMID: 23884466