Lactose intolerance: a non-allergic disorder often managed by allergologists


Lactose malabsorption is a very common condition characterized by intestinal lactase deficiency. Primary lactose malabsorption is an inherited deficit present in the majority of the world’s population, while secondary hypolactasia can be the consequence of an intestinal disease. The presence of malabsorbed lactose in the colonic lumen may cause gastrointestinal symptoms. This condition is known as lactose intolerance. Lactase non-persistence is the ancestral state, whilst two single nucleotide polymorphisms in the lactase gene have been associated with lactase persistence. These are C/T 13910 and G/a 22018 substitutions. Lactase persistence, this Mendelian dominant trait, only became advantageous after the invention of agriculture, when milk from domesticated animals became available for adults to drink. Lactase persistence is then strongly correlated with the diary history of the population. Diagnosis is assessed clinically by elimination of dietary lactose or, better, by non-invasive tests including hydrogen breath test and genetic test. In patients with lactase non-persistence, treatment should be considered exclusively if intolerance symptoms are present. In the absence of guidelines, the common therapeutic approach tends to exclude milk and dairy products from the diet. However, this strategy may have serious nutritional disadvantages. Several studies have been carried out to find alternative approaches, such as exogenous betagalactosidase, yogurt and probiotics for their bacterial lactase activity, strategies that can prolong contact time between enzyme and substrate delaying gastrointestinal transit time, and chronic lactose ingestion to enhance colonic adaptation.

Table of Content: Vol. 41 (No. 1) 2009 January

European Annals of Allergy and Clinical Immunology ISSN 1764-1489 | © 2024