Emerging evidence of the role of gut microbiota in the development of allergic diseases

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The purpose is to review recent studies examining the role of gut microbiota in allergic diseases and asthma.

Recent findings

Work in experimental models gives further evidence that a disturbed gut microbiota influences the propensity to develop allergic manifestations, and that changing the gut microbiota by dietary means (high fiber/acetate or prebiotics) in pregnancy may reduce the risk of allergic airways disease and food allergy in the offspring, respectively. The gut microbiome in established allergic disease and prior to disease onset has also been assessed in clinical trials. One study demonstrated a strong association between high abundance of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and decreased levels of butyrate and propionate, and established eczema. Lower relative abundance of Ruminococcaceae appears to be implicated in food sensitization and to precede the development of atopic eczema. Decreased relative abundance of Lachnospira, Veillonella, Faecalibacterium, and Rothia in early infancy was reported to be associated with increased asthma risk. Inoculation of germ-free mice with these genera decreased airway inflammation in their offspring thereby proposing a causal role of bacteria in preventing allergic airways disease.

Summary

Gut microbiome research is an actively developing field. Although candidate bacterial taxa have been reported it still remains unclear which bacteria (or other microbes), in which numbers and combinations, and when during the gut colonization process may prevent allergic diseases and asthma. There is still a call for standardized approaches that will enable direct comparison of different studies.

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