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The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine Vol. 10, No.1, 1995


The Cytotoxic Food Sensitivity Test: An Important Diagnostic Tool

- James A. Jackson, MT(ASCP)CLS, Ph.D., BCLD; Hugh D. Riordan, M.D.; Sharon Neathery, M.T.(AT); Carol A. Guinn, M.T.(ASCP)CLS, M.H.S.

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Many of the patients who come to the Center have three symptoms in common: headache, fatigue, and joint/muscle pain. If one or more of these symptoms are found during the history and physical examination, allergy or sensitivity to food is suspected. Other symptoms or complaints may include gas, bloating, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. As part of the biochemical examination, the cytotoxic food sensitivity test is ordered.

In 1956, Black1 introduced the cytotoxic food test. It was later refined and modified by Bryant and Bryant in 19602 Although the original Bryant test measured the reactivity of WBCs to food allergens, in 1971 they modified the test to also include the reactions of RBCs and platelets.3 In the test, the response between sensitized cells and specific food allergens is thought to be a combination of a type IV cell mediated, delayed-type immune reaction with involvement of a type I immediate hypersensitivity response.4 If a food "allergy", symptoms appear very quickly, if a food "sensitivity", symptoms appear later. It is postulated that food allergens remain in the G.I. tract and cause a set of symptoms from there, or that they leave the gut, enter the circulation, and eventually arrive at the target cell where they may combine with specific antibody receptors of RBCs, WBCs and platelets.5

The cytotoxic test has been performed at the BioCenter Laboratory almost 19 years. One of the authors (SN) was originally trained on the technique in the Bryant laboratory and has 24 years experience with the procedure. She performs most all the cytotoxic tests at the Center. The test used

at the Center has been described previously.5 Basically, 10 mL of venous blood is drawn (fasting) into a tube containing 1.0 mL of acid citrate dextroxse anticoagulant and gently mixed. The blood is transferred to a plastic tube and centrifuged at 1500 RPMs for 20 minutes. One drop of the buffy coat and RBC suspension is placed on prepared slides containing purified antigen in a petroleum jelly ring. The basic panel contains 20 antigens; the standard panel contains 90 antigens; and the supplemental panel contains 90 additional antigens. One ring contains no antigen and is used as the control. The rings are covered with a glass cover slip, incubated for 2 hours and then read under a light microscope at 400 power. Ten fields are viewed and representative Polaroid™ photomicrographs taken. The results are reported as negative (same as the control), Plus 1, plus 2, plus 3 and plus 4.6

Patients with positive results are counseled by a physician to eliminate these foods from their diet for a period of time. Patients are also cautioned that symptoms may become worse during the first 3 to 4 days of food elimination. One interesting finding from patients who follow the advice to restrict sensitive foods is that the majority report they lose weight.

Table 1 shows cytotoxic data from patients randomly selected from our files who had the standard panel of 90 antigens performed. The cytotoxic test was ordered by the physicians after the history and physical examination indicated the possibility of foods allergies. Although 100 patient charts were pulled, only 90 had the complete standard panel and could be used. The top 15 reactive antigens are shown.

Table 1. Percent Reactive Patients To Specific Antigens Antigen No. of Patients % Reactive

Onion 60 66.6%Whole Egg 58 64.4%Grape, Raisin 57 63.0%Vanilla 55 61.1%Corn 55 61.1%Tea 53 58.8%Hops 53 58.8%Apple 52 57.7%Bean, Navy 50 55.5%White Potato 50 55.5%Oats 47 54.4%Coffee 46 51.1%Rice 46 51.1%Grape, Seedless 43 47.7%Tomato 39 43.3%Pineapple 35 38.8%Tobacco 33 36.6%

Milk and dairy products were reactive in about 20% of the patients. However, the majority of these patients were adults.

It is difficult for people to buy foods not treated with some type of preservative or additive, even though many people show a hypersensitivity to them. Because of this, the standard panel contains

a representative sample of these chemicals. Table 2 shows the response of the patients to ten common chemicals added to food and water.

Table 2. Percent Reactive Patients To Food Additives Additive No. of Patients % Reactive

BHT 51 56.6% NutrasweetR 47 52.2% BHA 43 47.7% Sodium Bisulfite 38 42.2% Dextrose 38 42.2% MSG 38 42.2% Chlorine 36 40.0% Fluorine 29 32.2% Sodium Nitrate 24 26.6% Sodium Nitrite 23 25.5%

After restricting the sensitive antigens, most all patients report an increase in energy and that they "feel much better". In many instances, as a positive side benefit of ident

ifying and restricting sensitive foods, the patient loses weight. In some cases, the weight loss can be significant and benefit the obese patients. The Center has started to explore this interesting finding by developing a more automated method of performing the food sensitive test and offering the test to those who want to lose weight and have not been successful in the past. The new test is called CYTOTRIMR.

The cytotoxic food sensitive test has been used successfully at the Center for about 20 years. We find it a valuable addition to treating patients and have thousands of case histories showing positive results.

  1. Black AP: Pediatrics 17:716-724, 1956.

  2. Bryant WTK, BryantM: Larvngscope 70:810-824, 1960.

  3. Bryant WTK, Bryant M: Otolaryngol Clinic of N.Am. 4:523-534, 1971.

  4. Updergraft TR: Ear, Nose and Throat 56:48-64, 1977.

  5. Mayron LW, et. al.: Ann Allergy 38:323-338, 1977.

  6. Jackson JA, Riordan HD, Neathery S: Amer. Clin. Lab. 3:20-21, 1991.

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