Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Lung microbes protect against asthma


Whether or not people develop asthma may be determined in the first few weeks after birth according to a study of mice funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). The study suggests that microbes in the lungs stimulate the newborn's immune system.

Our lungs were long considered to be germfree and sterile. It was only recently discovered that, like our intestines and skin, our respiratory organs are colonised by bacteria. Now, tests conducted on mice by researchers working with Benjamin Marsland at the University Hospital in Lausanne have shown that these lung microbes offer protection against allergic asthma (*).

The researchers exposed the mice to an extract obtained from house dust mites. Neonates had a much stronger allergic reaction to the extract than older mice. Why? The lungs in newborn mice have not yet been colonised by the microbes that alter the immune system and make its responses less prone to allergic reactions.

Two-week adaptation process

... more about:
»allergens »humans »immune »lungs »microbes »microbial »newborn

The researchers have discovered that the process of colonisation and adaptation takes place during the first two weeks of the mouse's life. Young mice that were kept completely germ-free remained susceptible to asthma and had excessive immune responses to dust mite allergens even later in life.

Marsland and his team have already started studying whether lung microbes ensure healthy airways in humans as well. Pilot studies involving newborn babies in Switzerland and New Zealand indicate that the situation may be similar for men and mice. Further studies are required, however, to identify the potential mechanisms in humans.

Focus on newborns

"There would appear to be a developmental window early in life that determines whether or not an individual will develop asthma later," Marsland says. Until now, scientists and doctors have focused on asthma essentially from the point of view of the course of the disease and possible direct triggers. "We should probably focus on a much earlier stage, that of newborns."

What Marsland wants to know now is how big the developmental window is for building up the immune system in childhood. He hopes that the new discovery will help prevent asthma. Perhaps by encouraging pregnant women to eat more fruit and vegetables - quite recently Marsland showed that the dietary fibre contained in these foodstuffs also protects against allergic asthma by altering the microbial flora. That protection might be passed on to newborn babies.

(*) Eva Gollwitzer, Sejal Saglani, Aurélien Trompette, Koshika Yadava, Rebekah Sherburn, Kathy McCoy, Laurent Nicod, Clare Lloyd & Benjamin Marsland (2014). Lung microbiota promotes tolerance to allergens in neonates via PD-L1. Nature Medicine online. doi:10.1038/nm.3568
(journalists can obtain a pdf file from the SNSF by writing to:

Prof Benjamin J. Marsland
Pneumology Service
Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV)
CH-1011 Lausanne
Tel: +41 21 314 13 78

Weitere Informationen:

Media Abteilung Kommunikation | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: allergens humans immune lungs microbes microbial newborn

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Antioxidants cause malignant melanoma to metastasize faster
09.10.2015 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht Finding cannabinoids in hair does not prove cannabis consumption
07.10.2015 | Universitätsklinikum Freiburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Reliable in-line inspections of high-strength automotive body parts within seconds

Nondestructive material testing (NDT) is a fast and effective way to analyze the quality of a product during the manufacturing process. Because defective materials can lead to malfunctioning finished products, NDT is an essential quality assurance measure, especially in the manufacture of safety-critical components such as automotive B-pillars. NDT examines the quality without damaging the component or modifying the surface of the material. At this year's Blechexpo trade fair in Stuttgart, Fraunhofer IZFP will have an exhibit that demonstrates the nondestructive testing of high-strength automotive body parts using 3MA. The measurement results are available in a matter of seconds.

To minimize vehicle weight and fuel consumption while providing the highest level of crash safety, automotive bodies are reinforced with elements made from...

Im Focus: Kick-off for a new era of precision astronomy

The MICADO camera, a first light instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), has entered a new phase in the project: by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding, the partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, have all confirmed their participation. Following this milestone, the project's transition into its preliminary design phase was approved at a kick-off meeting held in Vienna. Two weeks earlier, on September 18, the consortium and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is building the telescope, have signed the corresponding collaboration agreement.

As the first dedicated camera for the E-ELT, MICADO will equip the giant telescope with a capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared...

Im Focus: Locusts at the wheel: University of Graz investigates collision detector inspired by insect eyes

Self-driving cars will be on our streets in the foreseeable future. In Graz, research is currently dedicated to an innovative driver assistance system that takes over control if there is a danger of collision. It was nature that inspired Dr Manfred Hartbauer from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Graz: in dangerous traffic situations, migratory locusts react around ten times faster than humans. Working together with an interdisciplinary team, Hartbauer is investigating an affordable collision detector that is equipped with artificial locust eyes and can recognise potential crashes in time, during both day and night.

Inspired by insects

Im Focus: Physicists shrink particle accelerator

Prototype demonstrates feasibility of building terahertz accelerators

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio...

Im Focus: Simple detection of magnetic skyrmions

New physical effect: researchers discover a change of electrical resistance in magnetic whirls

At present, tiny magnetic whirls – so called skyrmions – are discussed as promising candidates for bits in future robust and compact data storage devices. At...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Unexpected information about Earth's climate history from Yellow River sediment

09.10.2015 | Earth Sciences

Single atom alloy platinum-copper catalysts cut costs, boost green technology

09.10.2015 | Life Sciences

Indefatigable Hearing

09.10.2015 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>