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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016 Mar;137(3):680-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2015.12.1301. Epub 2016 Jan 22.

The microbial environment and its influence on asthma prevention in early life.

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Department of Pediatrics, Dr von Hauner Children's Hospital of Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Munich, Germany. Electronic address:


There is accumulating evidence to suggest that the environmental microbiome plays a significant role in asthma development. The very low prevalence of asthma in populations highly exposed to microbial environments (farm children and Amish populations) highlights its preventive potential. This microbial diversity might be necessary to instruct a well-adapted immune response and regulated inflammatory responses to other inhaled and ingested environmental elements, such as allergens, particles, and viruses. Like the internal gut microbiome, which is increasingly recognized as an important instructor of immune maturation, the external environmental microbiome might shape immune responses on the skin, airway mucosal surfaces, and potentially also the gut early in life. The diversity of the external microbial world will ensure that of the many maladapted pathways leading to asthma development, most, if not all, will be counterbalanced. Likewise, important contributors to asthma, such as allergen sensitization and allergic manifestations early in life, are being suppressed. Thus the facets of innate immunity targeted by microbes and their compounds and metabolites might be the master switch to asthma and allergy protection, which has been found in environments rich in microbial exposures.


Microbiome; asthma; children; environment; epidemiology

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