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
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: email@example.com)
Prof Benjamin J. Marsland
Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV)
Tel: +41 21 314 13 78
Media Abteilung Kommunikation | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Discovery of a novel gene for hereditary colon cancer
29.07.2016 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
New evidence: How amino acid cysteine combats Huntington's disease
27.07.2016 | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Transparent electronics devices are present in today’s thin film displays, solar cells, and touchscreens. The future will bring flexible versions of such devices. Their production requires printable materials that are transparent and remain highly conductive even when deformed. Researchers at INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials have combined a new self-assembling nano ink with an imprint process to create flexible conductive grids with a resolution below one micrometer.
To print the grids, an ink of gold nanowires is applied to a substrate. A structured stamp is pressed on the substrate and forces the ink into a pattern. “The...
A new Fraunhofer MEVIS method conveys medical interrelationships quickly and intuitively with innovative visualization technology
On the monitor, a brain spins slowly and can be examined from every angle. Suddenly, some sections start glowing, first on the side and then the entire back of...
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Ames Laboratory have discovered an unusual property of purple bronze that may point to new ways to achieve high temperature superconductivity.
While studying purple bronze, a molybdenum oxide, researchers discovered an unconventional charge density wave on its surface.
Munich Physicists have developed a novel electron microscope that can visualize electromagnetic fields oscillating at frequencies of billions of cycles per second.
Temporally varying electromagnetic fields are the driving force behind the whole of electronics. Their polarities can change at mind-bogglingly fast rates, and...
Breakup of continents with two speed: Continents initially stretch very slowly along the future splitting zone, but then move apart very quickly before the onset of rupture. The final speed can be up to 20 times faster than in the first, slow extension phase.phases
Present-day continents were shaped hundreds of millions of years ago as the supercontinent Pangaea broke apart. Derived from Pangaea’s main fragments Gondwana...
29.07.2016 | Event News
15.07.2016 | Event News
15.07.2016 | Event News
29.07.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
29.07.2016 | Life Sciences
29.07.2016 | Event News