As in other diseases of obscure etiology, allergy and autoimmunity have been implicated in the pathogenesis of ulcerative colitis.1 The purpose of this paper is to evaluate briefly the present status of this concept.
Allergic reactions to foods such as milk, eggs, cheese, and wheat, to pollens and other inhalants have been inferred in the activity of ulcerative colitis, chiefly on the basis of increased symptoms upon exposure to the suspected allergen, and their subsidence after its removal. Since gastrointestinal manifestations of nervous or other origin also fluctuate, under circumstances not allergic in nature, empirical evidence of this type is not entirely convincing. Withdrawal of cow's milk from the diet diminishes and its reintroduction increases the abdominal discomfort and diarrhea in occasional patients. However, similar trends can be attributed to mechanical or chemical irritation of the intestinal tract; and many colitis patients tolerate milk without difficulty. Milk