Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003 Feb;3(1):15-20.

Role of intestinal flora in the development of allergy.

Author information

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Turku, Finland. marko.kalliomaki@utu.fi



The frequency of allergic diseases is increasing worldwide. Experimental and clinical studies have linked a reduced number of early infections to this trend. The gastrointestinal system, which comprises the largest lymphoid tissue and microbial reservoir of the body, has received more attention during the last few years as a potential determiner in the development of atopic disease.


Alterations in intestinal microbiota have been detected both in infants suffering from allergic disease and in those later developing the disorder. Delay in the compositional development of and in gut microflora was a general finding in allergic children. In a subsequent study, perinatal administration of lactobacilli halved the later development of atopic eczema during the first 2 years of life. Specific strains of the healthy gut microbiota have been shown to induce the production of IL-10 and transforming growth factor-beta, which possess an important regulative role in the development of allergic type immune response. Probiotics also strengthen gut defence barrier mechanisms and reduce antigen load in the gut. Pattern recognition receptors in intestinal epithelial and antigen-presenting cells have been demonstrated to mediate a continuing dialogue between host and gut microbiota.


Despite several promising findings, the exact role of gut normal microbiota in the development of allergy remains to be elucidated. For successful interventions, more data concerning a communication between host and specific microbial species are needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk