Type-1 allergic diseases consist of two phases. An inductive phase comprises IgE formation to allergens based on the immune system being biased to predominant T-helper type 2 responses. In a triggering phase allergic symptoms are triggered due to a robust secretion of mediators from mast cells and other cells after re-exposure to the same allergen. Various polyphenols, found in foods and plant sources, have potent anti-allergic activities that have been shown in different disease models and in human clinical trials. The present review summarizes the recent findings and progress in the research about polyphenols and natural products, and their role in allergic diseases. Intake of representative polyphenols (flavones, flavone-3-ols, catechins, anthocyanidins, flavanones, procyanidins, and resveratrol) can improve a skewed Th1/Th2 balance and suppress antigen-specific IgE antibody formation. Oral administration of fermented grape foods (FGF), one example of natural products fermented by lactic acid bacteria, is effective for decreasing allergic symptoms in the effector phase. Inhibitory mechanisms of polyphenols are also discussed.
Keywords: Th1/Th2 balance, fermented grape foods (FGF), polyphenols, flavonoids, catechins, lactic acid bacteria (LAB), TNF-α, IgE, FcεRI.