Findings Support Hygiene Hypothesis
Researchers at National Jewish Medical and Research Center have gathered strong experimental support for the hygiene hypothesis, a proposed explanation for the worldwide rise in asthma and allergies. The research team, led by Richard Martin, M.D., found that early infection with the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae reduced a mouses subsequent response to allergens. Alternatively, mice exposed to allergens prior to infection, developed a stronger allergic response. The research team is reporting its results in the March 2003 issue of the journal Infection and Immunity.
"For the first time, we have shown that a bacterial infection can modify the allergic response," said Dr. Martin, Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine at National Jewish. "Timing is everything, however. Our results suggest that M. pneumoniae, or a related pathogen, could help prevent asthma and other allergic diseases, but only if the infection occurs before a person is sensitized to an allergen."
William Allstetter | EurekAlert!
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