Outstanding animal studies in allergy II. From atopic barrier and microbiome to allergen-specific immunotherapy

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Animal studies published within the past 18 months were assessed, focusing on innate and specific immunomodulation, providing knowledge of high translational relevance for human atopic and allergic diseases.

Recent findings

Allergic companion animals represent alternative models, but most studies were done in mice. Atopic dermatitis mouse models were refined by the utilization of cytokines like IL-23 and relevant skin allergens or enzymes. A novel IL-6 reporter mouse allows biomonitoring of inflammation. Both skin pH and the (transferable) microflora have a pivotal role in modulating the skin barrier. The microflora of the gastrointestinal mucosa maintains tolerance to dietary compounds and can be disturbed by antiacid drugs. A key mouse study evidenced that dust from Amish households, but not from Hutterites protected mice against asthma. In studies on subcutaneous and sublingual allergen-specific immunotherapy, much focus was given on delivery and adjuvants, using poly-lacto-co-glycolic particles, CpGs, probiotics or Vitamin D3. The epicutaneous and intralymphatic routes showed promising results in mice and horses in terms of prophylactic and therapeutic allergy treatment.

Summary

In atopic dermatitis, food allergies and asthma, environmental factors, together with the resident microflora and barrier status, decide on sensitization versus tolerance. Also allergen-specific immunotherapy operates with immunomodulatory principles.

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