Useful Information on Eosinophilic Disorders

A review (JB Wechsler et al. J Asthma Allergy 2014; 7: 85-94) provides practical advice on dietary management of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE); the section on food reintroduction from elemental diets for patients with EoE is particularly helpful.  They start with typically less allergenic foods (group A) to most allergenic (group D) -from their Table 2:

Group A:

  • Vegetables (nonlegume): carrots, squash, sweet potato, white potato, string beans, broccoli, lettuce, beets, asparagus, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts
  • Fruit (noncitrus, nontropical) apples, pear, peaches, plum, apricot, nectarine, grape, raisins
  • Vegetables: tomatoes, celery, cucumber, onion, garlic, and other vegetables

Group B

  • Citrus fruit: orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime
  • Tropical fruit: banana, kiwi, pineapple, mango, papaya, guava, avocado
  • Melons: honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon
  • Berries: strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, cherry, cranberry

Group C

  • Legumes: lima beans, chickpeas, white/black/red beans
  • Grains: oat, barley, rye, other grains
  • Meat: lamb, chicken, turkey, pork

Group D

  • Fish/shellfish
  • Corn
  •  Peas
  • Peanut
  • Wheat
  • Beef
  • Soy
  • Egg
  • Milk

Also, this review includes a long list of “freebie” foods allowed while on elemental diet, including artificial flavors/colors, corn syrup, oils, salt, crystal lite, and many others.

The authors note that “in our practice, the period of exclusive elemental formula is limited to 4 weeks prior to therapeutic assessment by endoscopy and reintroduction…Single foods are introduced every 5-7 days” within a group and then endoscopy after 3-4 foods are clinically tolerated.”  Foods from groups C and D are introduced more cautiously.

Also noted: HM Ko et al. Am J Gastroenterol 2014; 109: 1277-85.  This retrospective study of 30 children with severe gastric eosinophilia (mean age 7.5 years) provides a good deal of useful information.  Key point: “the disease is highly responsive to dietary restriction therapies.”  82% of patients responded to dietary restrictions and 78% had a histologic response as well.  Dietary treatments included amino acid-based diet in 6 (n=6), 7-food group empiric diet (n=6), and empiric avoidance of 1-3 foods (n=5).  Pharmacologic treatments (proton pump inhibitor or cromolyn) were attempted in a total of four patients in this series with half responding clinically and one of four responding histologically.

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

Systemic Review of Dietary Treatments for Eosinophilic Esophagitis

A recent analysis of the literature for dietary treatment of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) has been published (Gastroenterology 2014; 146: 1639-48). Only 33 references out of 581 screened were included, yielding 1317 patients (1128 children and 189 adults).

Key findings:

  • Elemental diets were effective in 90.8%
  • Six-food elimination diets were effective in 72.1%
  • Allergy test-directed diets were effective in 45.5%
  • Adults responded similarly to children to dietary interventions with remission in 67.2% compared to 63.3%.

Bottomline: This study reiterates the dietary response rates from multiple previous studies. The finding that adults respond similar to children is less well-recognized, perhaps because dietary treatments are used less often in adults with EoE.

Related blog entries:

Comparing diets in EoE

There remains a limited number of therapeutic options with EoE.  Dietary therapy can be effective as well as burdensome.  A closer look at dietary treatment effectiveness was recently published (J Allergy Clin Immunol 2012; 129: 1570-8 –thanks to Seth Marcus for alerting me to this article).

Due to eligibility requirements, only 98 patients of an initial 513 met criteria.  The findings from this study may be difficult to generalize because of the following:

  • Highly selected patient population
  • Retrospective study.   Dietary therapy was NOT chosen randomly.
  • Study originates from a specialized center (Cincinnati) which attracts atypical cases of EoE

That being said, the study asks some important questions. What is the remission rate for skin test-directed elimination diet in comparison to six food group elimination diet (SFED) and to an elemental diet?  The SFED actually composed two groups (in my opinion, this is a significant flaw in the study design & has a limiting effect on the conclusions).  The ‘classical’ SFED (42% or 11/26) eliminated the six most common food groups (milk, soy, wheat, egg, nuts, fish/shellfish) whereas a ‘modified’ SFED (58% or 15/26)  combined the classical SFED with foods eliciting positive skin-testing.

Some of the authors terminology:

  • Complete remission: 1 or fewer eosinophils/hpf
  • Partial remission: 2-5 eos/hpf
  • Partial resolution: 6-14 eos/hpf
  • Remission: <15 eos/hpf
  • Non-remission: >15 eos/hpf

Skin prick tests (SPFs) were performed to as many as 62 foods and 11 environmental allergens and graded 0-4.  0 equated to negative control & 4 equated to histamine control -all interpreted at 15 minutes after placement.

Atopy patch tests (APTs) were interpreted at 48 hours with scoring between 0-4.  A score of 2 indicated “erythematous with generalized induration.”  Any score of 2 or higher was considered positive.

Food reintroduction process: “Food reintroductions were initiated only when the peak eosinophil count was less than 15 eosinophils/hpf. If symptoms occurred after reintroduction of a food, patients were instructed to discontinue that food, wait approximately 10 to 14 days, and then reintroduce another food…. A food reintroduction was considered successful if no symptoms were reported and the postpeak eosinophil count was less than 15 eosinophils/hpf.”

Why were so many patients excluded?  The main causes were 181 patients did not meet strict EoE criteria, 122 patients received glucocorticoids, and 52 patients had another eosinophilia-associated condition; less common reasons included patient age >21, being part of a separate drug trial, obvious noncompliance, different diet regimen, and not having 2 consecutive EGDs separated by dietary intervention.

How many endoscopies are needed for dietary therapy?   In this study, the average patient had 8.5 EGDs at Cincinnati.  The greatest number of EGDs took place among patients assigned to an elemental diet (average >11); these patients also had a longer followup period compared to the other two groups: 2.9 years compared with 1.1 for SFED and 2.1 for directed diet.

  • All three diets resulted in improvement in eosinophil count.
  • Overall Remission rates: 96% elemental, 81% SFED, 65% directed diet
  • Complete Remission rates:  59% elemental, 39% SFED, 30% directed diet

One interesting set of data is in Table 4.  This gives the pass rate for various foods with single and multiple food reintroductions.  Milk for example had a pass rate of 35% among the 17 patients who had this as a single food reintroduction.  The values ranged from a low pass rate of 29% for strawberries to a high pass rate of 78% for cocoa and 75% for pork. Soy, eggs, and wheat all hovered near 60% pass rate.

Conclusions by authors:

1. “SFED is no less successful than directed diet and consistent with unreliability of skin testing …Our data…undermine the value of skin test-directed dietary management. ” This is due to the fact that the disease mechanism is not an IgE-mediated disease (skin testing primarily detects IgE-mediated allergens).

2. Elemental diet is superior at inducing histologic remission. However, “multiple studies indicate that adherence is inversely related to the number of foods eliminated.”

Previous related posts:

Guidelines for Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Looking better or feeling better in EoE?

Look of improvement on an EoE diet

Eosinophilic Esophagitis -Six Food Group Diet

MicroRNA signature for eosinophilic esophagitis

The undiscovered country


Eat your veggies…if you don’t want to get sick

Maybe your mother was right –you should eat your vegetables!   For a long time, it has been known that dietary changes can be used to treat Crohn’s disease.  The specifics about what type of diet and the reasons for how diet promotes a healthy gastrointestinal tract are being unraveled.  A person’s diet affects their microbiome; and, a number of recent articles have highlighted the microbiome in both functional and nonfunctional disorders (see below).

An even more fascinating article is in last week’s New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM 2012; 366: 181).  This article discusses two publications which show how certain dietary components interact with intestinal immune receptors.

  • Kiss EA et al. Science 2011 October 27 (Epub ahead of print).
  • Li Y et al. Cell 2011; 147: 629-40.

This NEJM article implicates a typical ‘Western’ diet as a contributor to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  However, a diet high in vegetables may prevent or reduce inflammation.  One mechanism whereby vegetables affect the GI tract is through the AhR (aryl hydrocarbon) receptor.  Some vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts, are natural ligands for this receptor.  A mouse model has shown that AhR deficiency “results in increased epithelial vulnerability, immune activation, and altered composition of the microbiota.”  In addition, AhR is down-regulated in the intestinal tissue of persons with IBD.  AhR ligands are associated with increased interleukin-22 which promotes intestinal integrity.

Additional work regarding the optimal diet are ongoing.  There has been an interest in a ‘carbohydrate specific diet.’  This year’s NASPGHAN meeting (abstract #48)  presented data on this diet from a retrospective study.  This poster described five patients on monotherapy (diet alone) and at 6 months –good results in four patients (80%).  A few prospective studies are underway; in fact, a prospective study with patients from our office will be presented at this year’s DDW.  Initial results look promising (personal communication from lead investigator, Stan Cohen).

Additional references:

  • -Gastroenterology 2010; 139: 1816, 1844.  Microbiome & affect on IBD vs mucosal homeostasis.
  • -J Pediatr 2010; 157: 240.  Microbiota in pediatric IBD -increased E coli and decreased F praunsitzil in IBD pts.
  • -Gastro 2011; 141: 28, 208.  GM-CSF receptor (CD116) defective expression & function in 85% of IBD pts. n=52.
  • -Scand J Gastro 2001; 36: 383-8.  Elemental & polymeric diets successful in maintaining remission in ~43% of adults with complete steroid withdrawal.
  • -Clin Gastro & Hepatology 2006; 4: 744.  10 weeks of exclusive modulen (along with clears) had 79% response rate (n=37).  Better histologic response than steroids.
  • -J Pediatr 2000; 136: 285. Nutritional treatment w polymeric diet is effective w/in 8 weeks in 32/37.
  • -JPGN 2000; 31: 3 & 8.  EN about as effective as steroids for primary Rx.
  • -Can J Gastroenterol 1998; 12(8):544-49. Patients, diets and preferences in
    a pediatric population with Crohn’s disease.
  • -Gastroenterology 1988; 94:603-610. Chronic intermittent elemental diet improves growth failure in  children with Crohn’s disease.
  • -JPGN 1989; 8:8-12. Nutritional support for pediatric patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
  • -J Pediatr 2000; 136: 285-91. The role of nutrition in treating pediatric Crohn’s disease in the new millennium.