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Smits, Hermelijn H.; Vlugt, Lucien E. P. M. van der; Mutius, Erika von; Hiemstra, Pieter S. (2016): Childhood allergies and asthma: New insights on environmental exposures and local immunity at the lung barrier. In: Current Opinion in Immunology, Vol. 42: pp. 41-47
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While certain bacteria and respiratory viruses promote local inflammation and disease onset, a more diverse colonization of the different species in the (gut) microbiome may be linked to more regulatory responses and protection against asthma and allergies. These processes are also influenced in part by food intake, both targeting the composition of the gut microbiome and influencing the immune system via metabolites. Early life environmental microbial exposure also contributes to protection against asthma and allergy and is linked with an early activation of the innate immune system and the development of regulatory immune responses. Although greater mechanistic insight is needed, it is tempting to speculate that part of the environmental effect can be explained by modulation of the microbiome composition at mucosal surfaces, epithelial barrier function and/or local immunity. A review of the latest studies is provided.