ALCAT Test - a doctors' thoughts
D.O., Medical Advisory Board:
Other food sensitivity tests measure antibodies against food. Antibodies, except in the case of IgE-mediated classical food allergy are protective. That is they do not themselves produce symptoms, but they help rid the body of excess antigen. Thus, the body produces IgG antibodies to foods that are ingested regularly. That’s normal. In general, these IgG antibodies do not produce inflammation.
The Alcat test, however, uses a live, cellular, biological response test. That detects the triggers of inflammation.
Classical food allergy on the other hand is quite different. It involves a different immune reaction mediated by IgE antibodies and, by definition, provokes a rapid onset of symptoms.
Since classical food allergy symptoms typically occur quickly after exposure, identification of the offending food is usually obvious. On the other hand, symptoms of food intolerance or sensitivity tend to be delayed, less acute, subtle, and are usually associated with more chronic conditions. All of this makes it difficult to identify the offending food or substance, which is why the Alcat test is so useful.
What you see here is the cross section of this core of the villus. This black stuff here are the capillaries. These green dots that you will see a little bit better are the soldiers, neutrophils. They are particularly treated in these transgenic animals with a fruit fly gene that makes them to be fluorescent.
So what you’re going to see now is on the left, these are the villi of a mouse that has been exposed to another protein, BSA. This is a mouse that has been gavaged with gluten. This is pretty much what you’re going to see there. See how many of the soldiers are stuck on the wall of the capillaries here and then eventually start to move out and get out and get into the external part, what we call the lamina propria, while this guy here, they keep traveling, and they stay in the lumen.
In the animals that were exposed to gluten, gluten is attracting the soldiers outside of the capillary. They start to really get on the battlefield where gluten and god knows, again, what else is sitting in there because it’s been absorbed through this breach in the barrier, while these guys, they keep going. Again, who is close by may see that. Even if you’re not that close, you see the mess that is happening here. This is all due to the simple difference that here you have bovine serum albumin, and here you have gluten. That’s all.
M.D., Medical Advisor:
There are only two ways to identify a food intolerance. First, an oral challenge, and this should be double blinded because expectations can influence the outcome. Each challenge should be separated in time by three days to mitigate carryover from the previous challenge. The second is an immune cell challenge, such as the Alcat test that involves presenting the food substance directly to the patient’s live, peripheral immune cells to determine if they provoke a response.
The first method is the gold standard, but it would take months or even possibly years to apply to all the dietary substances and would be highly cost prohibitive. The Alcat test can be performed conveniently with a blood draw at a nominal cost, and it gives nearly the same result as the oral challenge.