Food Allergy Research Section
Established in 2014
Pamela Guerrerio, M.D., Ph.D.
Chief, Laboratory of Allergic Diseases
Chief, Food Allergy Research Section
Provides direct clinical care to patients at NIH Clinical Center
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.
PH.D. in Human Genetics, Johns Hopkins University
B.S. in Biology, University of Iowa
Dr. Guerrerio graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. degree in biology from the University of Iowa and subsequently entered the Medical Scientist Training Program at Johns Hopkins University where she completed medical school and a Ph.D. in human genetics. She did her residency in pediatrics and fellowship in allergy and immunology at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Guerrerio joined NIAID in 2014 and is currently a Senior Investigator and Chief of the Food Allergy Research Section. Her research program is focused on understanding the key genetic, immunologic, and biochemical pathways that lead to the development of food allergy, eosinophilic esophagitis, and other related diseases, and how this information can be translated into therapeutic benefit. Her group uses a multifaceted approach utilizing both human samples and mouse models to perform basic, translational, and clinical studies. Her current efforts are focused on investigating the environmental and immunologic factors that influence the development and severity of food allergy, identifying new approaches for the prevention and treatment of food allergy, and identifying single gene disorders associated with an increased propensity for food allergy and other allergic conditions. Dr. Guerrerio has received a number of awards for her research, including the ARTrust Faculty Development Award from the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).
Key words: genetics, genetic syndrome, food allergy, eczema, atopic dermatitis, eosinophilic esophagitis, nutrition, diagnosis, Loeys-Dietz syndrome, IgE
- Prospective Study to Identify Food-Specific and Component IgE Threshold Levels that Predict Food Allergy in Patients with Elevated Total Serum IgE Levels and Atopic Dermatitis: NCT03835767
Key words: peanut allergy, milk allergy, diagnosis, food allergy, eczema, atopic dermatitis, oral food challenge, IgE
- A Randomized, Placebo-controlled Crossover Study to Assess the Safety of Administering a Second Dose of COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine in Individuals who Experienced a Systemic Allergic Reaction to the Initial Dose: NCT04977479
Key Words: allergic reaction, COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, anaphylaxis, mechanisms, challenge
Monaco DR, Sie BM, Nirschl TR, Knight AC, Sampson HA, Nowak-Wegrzyn A, Wood RA, Hamilton RG, Frischmeyer-Guerrerio PA, Larman HB. Profiling serum antibodies with a pan allergen phage library identifies key wheat allergy epitopes. Nat Commun. 2021 Jan 22;12(1):379.
Weissler KA, Rasooly M, DiMaggio T, Bolan H, Cantave D, Martino D, Neeland MR, Tang MLK, Dang TD, Allen KJ, Frischmeyer-Guerrerio PA. Identification and analysis of peanut-specific effector T and regulatory T cells in children allergic and tolerant to peanut. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2018 May;141(5):1699-1710.e7.
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. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2018 Apr;141(4):1526-1529.e4.
Frischmeyer-Guerrerio PA, Masilamani M, Gu W, Brittain E, Wood R, Kim J, Nadeau K, Jarvinen KM, Grishin A, Lindblad R, Sampson HA. Mechanistic correlates of clinical responses to omalizumab in the setting of oral immunotherapy for milk allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017 Oct;140(4):1043-1053.e8.
Gorelik M, Narisety SD, Guerrerio AL, Chichester KL, 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. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015 May;135(5):1283-92.
Frischmeyer-Guerrerio PA, Guerrerio AL, Oswald G, Chichester K, Myers L, Halushka MK, Oliva-Hemker M, Wood RA, Dietz HC. TGFβ receptor mutations impose a strong predisposition for human allergic disease. Sci Transl Med. 2013 Jul 24;5(195):195ra94.