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Pasteurisation and Homogenisation of Milk Enhances the Immunogenicity of Milk Plasma Proteins in a Rat Model

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Groups of rats were immunised intraperitoneally with 0.5 ml of raw milk, skim milk, pasteurised milk or pasteurised/homogenised milk. On day 14, animals were boosted with identical preparations, and serum samples were collected on day 28 for the measurement of IgG antibodies directed against milk plasma proteins. Samples were assayed for antibodies to casein, beta-lactoglobulin, bovine gamma globulin and bovine serum albumin. Significantly higher concentrations of antibodies of all specificities were detected in the serum of animals immunised with pasteurised/homogenised milk compared with animals immunised with raw or skim milk. Higher concentrations of antibodies were also seen in the group immunised with pasteurised/homogenised milk than the group immunised with pasteurised milk, although significant differences were only seen in the response to casein (p < 0.01). Additional animals were twice immunised with either raw milk fortified with keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH), or pasteurised/homogenised milk which had been fortified with KLH prior to processing. Such treatment significantly enhanced the immunogenicity of the KLH (p < 0.05). These results raise the possibility that homogenisation may similarly effect the way in which the human immune system interacts with cows' milk proteins in the gastrointestinal tract, and suggest that milk processing may be an important variable to consider in studies of human allergy to cows' milk proteins.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 1999

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