Microbial Insights into Asthmatic Immunopathology. A Forward-Looking Synthesis and Commentary
Asthma is an aberrant inflammatory condition of the airways affecting approximately 1 in 10 children in affluent countries. An increasing body of evidence suggests that microbial exposures during a “critical window” of development in early life play a central role in determining future asthma susceptibility. However, like the disease itself, considerable heterogeneity exists among studies in which researchers have investigated the associations between particular microbial taxa and asthma immunology. As our understanding of asthmatic pathology evolves to enable clearer definition of asthma endotypes, it will be important to consider the impact of various environmental factors on each endotype. Given the strong evidence in support of the hypothesis that early-life microbial exposures predict later disease states such as asthma, consideration of these endotypes when establishing experimental outcomes in epidemiological studies could allow for increased precision when determining exposure-outcome associations and engaging in more focused follow-up mechanistic investigations.