Umweltschadstoffe als Adjuvanzien und Co-Faktoren einer immunologischen Erkrankung

Environmental pollutants as adjuvant factors of immune system derived diseases

Zusammenfassung

Aufgabe des Immunsystems ist es, den Körper gegen eindringende Krankheitserreger zu schützen. Voraussetzung dafür ist die Fähigkeit, zwischen eigen und fremd zu unterscheiden, das heißt körperfremde Stoffe abzuwehren und gleichzeitig körpereigene Stoffe zu tolerieren. Ein komplexes regulatorisches Netzwerk sorgt dabei für die Aufrechterhaltung des sensiblen Gleichgewichts zwischen Eigen- und Fremderkennung. Wird dieses gestört, entwickeln sich chronische Entzündungsreaktionen, wie Allergien oder Autoimmunreaktionen, oder Infektionserkrankungen, weil das Immunsystem eindringende Erreger nicht mehr effizient eliminieren kann. Umweltschadstoffe können derartige Störungen auslösen, indem sie die Funktion von Zellen des Immunsystems so modifizieren, dass diese entweder übersensibel auf Allergene oder körpereigene Strukturen reagieren oder Pathogene nicht mehr adäquat bekämpfen können. Eine derartige indirekte Wirkung bezeichnet man auch als einen adjuvanten Effekt. Für viele Stoffe aus unserem unmittelbaren Lebensumfeld wie z. B. Pestizide, Schwermetalle, Holzschutzmittel, oder flüchtige organische Verbindungen sind derartige adjuvante Effekte bekannt. Die Mechanismen, über die Umweltschadstoffe zur Entstehung chronisch-entzündlicher Erkrankungen beitragen können, sind vielschichtig und werden hier am Beispiel von Asthma und Allergien diskutiert.

Während das Immunsystem eines gesunden Erwachsenen meist problemlos in der Lage ist, auch unter Umwelteinflüssen zuverlässig zwischen eigen und fremd zu unterscheiden, reagieren Kinder sehr viel sensibler auf die gleiche Belastung. Um zu verhindern, dass in dieser hochsensiblen Phase der frühen Kindheit Krankheitsrisiken unter dem Einfluss von Umweltbelastungen geprägt werden, sind Kinder deshalb besonders zu schützen.

Abstract

The main task of the immune system is to protect the body against invading pathogens. To be able to do so, immune cells must be able to recognize and combat exogenous challenges and at the same time tolerate body-borne structures. A complex regulatory network controls the sensitive balance between defense and tolerance. Perturbation of this network ultimately leads to the development of chronic inflammation, such as allergies, autoimmune reactions, and infections, because the immune system is no longer able to efficiently eliminate invading pathogens. Environmental pollutants can cause such perturbations by affecting the function of immune cells in such a way that they would react hypersensitively against allergens and the body’s own structures, respectively, or that they would be no longer able to adequately combat pathogens. This indirect effect is also known as adjuvant effect. For pesticides, heavy metals, wood preservatives, or volatile organic compounds such adjuvant effects are well known. Examples of the mechanism by which environmental toxins contribute to chronic inflammatory diseases are manifold and will be discussed along asthma and allergies.

While the immune system of healthy adults is typically well able to distinguish between foreign and endogenous substances even under adverse environmental conditions, that of children would react much more sensible upon comparable environmental challenges. To prevent priming for diseases by environmental cues during that highly sensitive period of early childhood children are to be particularly protected.

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Correspondence to Dr. Irina Lehmann.

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Lehmann, I. Umweltschadstoffe als Adjuvanzien und Co-Faktoren einer immunologischen Erkrankung. Bundesgesundheitsbl 60, 592–596 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00103-017-2545-6

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Schlüsselwörter

  • Immunsystem
  • Umweltschadstoffe
  • Adjuvante Effekte
  • Flüchtige organische Verbindungen VOC
  • Sensible Zeitfenster

Keywords

  • Immune system
  • Environmental pollutants
  • Adjuvant effects
  • Volatile organic compounds VOC
  • Sensitive time window