The microbiome in asthma

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Abstract

The application of recently developed sensitive, specific, culture-independent tools for identification of microbes is transforming concepts of microbial ecology, including concepts of the relationships between the vast complex populations of microbes associated with ourselves and with states of health and disease. Although most work initially focused on the community of microbes (microbiome) in the gastrointestinal tract and its relationship to gastrointestinal disease, interest has expanded to include study of the relationships of the airway microbiome to asthma and its phenotypes and to the relationships between the gastrointestinal microbiome, development of immune function, and predisposition to allergic sensitization and asthma. Here we provide our perspective on the findings of studies of differences in the airway microbiome between asthmatic patients and healthy subjects and of studies of relationships between environmental microbiota, gut microbiota, immune function, and asthma development. In addition, we provide our perspective on how these findings suggest the broad outline of a rationale for approaches involving directed manipulation of the gut and airway microbiome for the treatment and prevention of allergic asthma.

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