OPEN International journal of environmental research and public health | 20 Dec 2013
J Molloy, K Allen, F Collier, ML Tang, AC Ward and P Vuillermin
There has been a dramatic rise in the prevalence of IgE-mediated food allergy over recent decades, particularly among infants and young children. The cause of this increase is unknown but one putative factor is a change in the composition, richness and balance of the microbiota that colonize the human gut during early infancy. The coevolution of the human gastrointestinal tract and commensal microbiota has resulted in a symbiotic relationship in which gut microbiota play a vital role in early life immune development and function, as well as maintenance of gut wall epithelial integrity. Since IgE mediated food allergy is associated with immune dysregulation and impaired gut epithelial integrity there is substantial interest in the potential link between gut microbiota and food allergy. Although the exact link between gut microbiota and food allergy is yet to be established in humans, recent experimental evidence suggests that specific patterns of gut microbiota colonization may influence the risk and manifestations of food allergy. An understanding of the relationship between gut microbiota and food allergy has the potential to inform both the prevention and treatment of food allergy. In this paper we review the theory and evidence linking gut microbiota and IgE-mediated food allergy in early life. We then consider the implications and challenges for future research, including the techniques of measuring and analyzing gut microbiota, and the types of studies required to advance knowledge in the field.
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