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Gut Microbes. 2013 Mar-Apr;4(2):158-64. doi: 10.4161/gmic.23567. Epub 2013 Jan 18.

Perinatal antibiotic treatment affects murine microbiota, immune responses and allergic asthma.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology,University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC Canada.


There is convincing evidence from recent human and animal studies that suggests the intestinal microbiota plays an important role in regulating immune responses associated with the development of allergic asthma, particularly during early infancy. Although identifying the mechanistic link between host-microbe interactions in the gut and lung mucosal tissues has proved challenging, several very recent studies are now providing significant insights. We have shown that administering vancomycin to mice early in life shifts resident gut flora and enhances future susceptibility to allergic asthma. This effect was not observed in mice given another antibiotic, streptomycin, nor when either antibiotic was administered to adult mice. In this addendum, we further analyze the link between early life administration of vancomycin and future susceptibility to asthma and describe how specific immune cell populations, which have been implicated in other asthma-related microbiota studies, are affected. We propose that shifts in gut microbiota exacerbate asthma-related immune responses when they occur shortly after birth and before weaning (perinatal period), and suggest that these effects may be mediated, at least in the case of vancomycin, by elevated serum IgE and reduced regulatory T cell populations.


antibiotics; asthma; early life; gut; immune mechanisms; microbiota; perinatal programming

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