MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Rhonda Souza, MD
Baylor University Medical Center
Center for Esophageal Research
Dallas, TX 75246
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a modern disorder of the esophagus caused by an allergy to certain foods. EoE causes esophageal symptoms like difficulty swallowing and heartburn and is diagnosed when biopsies of the esophagus taken during endoscopy show numerous eosinophils, which are a type of inflammatory blood cell. There are few established treatments for EoE.
One such treatment is a diet that eliminates the offending food allergens, and another is to use steroids to reduce the number of eosinophils in the esophagus. However, the most common treatment for adults with eosinophilic esophagitis is to use proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which block the proton pumps in stomach cells that make acid. In earlier studies, we found that PPIs also can block proton pumps in esophageal cells. Those proton pumps are activated by chemicals that the body produces in response to allergens including interleukin (IL)-13 or IL-4. Il-13 and IL-4, which cause the esophagus to produce eotaxin-3, a molecule that attracts eosinophils. What remained unknown, however, was the mechanism whereby these interleukins activate proton pumps in the EoE esophagus. In our present study, we explored whether IL-4 works by increasing calcium levels in esophageal cells from EoE patients.