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May 22nd: Thinking bigger: How early-life microbe exposures influence development of asthma and allergic disease

Imbalance, or dysbiosis, of the gut microbiome of infants has been linked to increased risk of asthma and allergic diseases. Studies provide a wealth of data showing a relationship between early-life risk factors and changes in the structure of the gut microbiome that disrupt immunoregulation.  These studies have typically focused on one specific risk factor, such as mode of delivery or early-life antibiotic use. Such “micro‐level” exposures have a considerable impact on affected individuals but not necessarily the whole population. In this review, the authors place these mechanisms under a larger lens that take account of “upstream” “macro-level” environmental factors such as air pollution and the built environment. While these exposures likely have a smaller impact on the microbiome at an individual level, their ubiquitous nature confers them with a large influence at the population level. The review paper focuses on features of the indoor and outdoor human-made environment, their microbiomes and the research challenges inherent in integrating the built environment microbiomes with the early-life gut microbiome.

The authors argue that an exposome perspective integrating internal and external microbiomes with macro-level environmental factors can provide a more comprehensive framework to define how environmental exposures can shape the gut microbiome and influence development of allergic disease.

Sbihi H, Boutin RC, Cutler C, Suen M, Finlay BB, Turvey SE. Thinking bigger: How early life environmental exposures shape the gut microbiome and influence the development of asthma and allergic disease. Allergy. 2019 Apr 9.

Free access https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/all.13812