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Abstract
Our global hypothesis is that atopic conditions and asthma develop because an individual’s immune system is not able to appropriately resolve inflammation resulting from allergen exposures. We propose that the failure to appropriately down-regulate inflammation and produce a toleragenic state results primarily from less robust immune homeostatic processes rather than from a tendency to over-respond to allergenic stimuli. An individual with lower immune homeostatic capacity is unable to rapidly and completely terminate, on average over time, immune responses to innocuous allergens, increasing risk of allergic disease. A lack of robust homeostasis also increases the risk of other inflammatory conditions, such as prolonged respiratory viral infections and obesity, leading to the common co-occurrence of these conditions. Further, we posit that the development of vigorous immune homeostatic mechanisms is an evolutionary adaptation strongly influenced by both 1) exposure to a diverse maternal microbiota through the prenatal period, labor and delivery, and, 2) an orderly assemblage process of the infant’s gut microbiota ecosystem shaped by breastfeeding and early exposure to a wide variety of ingested foods and environmental microbes. This early succession of microbial communities together with early allergen exposures orchestrate the development of an immune system with a robust ability to optimally control inflammatory responses and a lowered risk for atopic disorders.
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Concepts
Allergen, Immunology, Bacteria, Inflammation, Atopy, Allergy, Asthma, Immune system
MeSH headings
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