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Microbiome/microbiota and allergies


Allergies are characterized by a hypersensitive immune reaction to originally harmless antigens. In recent decades, the incidence of allergic diseases has markedly increased, especially in developed countries. The increase in the frequency of allergic diseases is thought to be primarily due to environmental changes related to a westernized lifestyle, which affects the commensal microbes in the human body. The human gut is the largest organ colonized by bacteria and contains more than 1000 bacterial species, called the “gut microbiota.” The recent development of sequencing technology has enabled researchers to genetically investigate and clarify the diversity of all species of commensal microbes. The collective genomes of commensal microbes are together called the “microbiome.” Although the detailed mechanisms remain unclear, it has been proposed that the microbiota/microbiome, especially that in the gut, impacts the systemic immunity and metabolism, thus affecting the development of various immunological diseases, including allergies. In this review, we summarize the recent findings regarding the importance of the microbiome/microbiota in the development of allergic diseases and also the results of interventional studies using probiotics or prebiotics to prevent allergies.

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We are grateful to Dr. Brian Quinn for reviewing the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Naoki Shimojo.

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This article is a contribution to the Special Issue on Microbiome, Immunity and Inflammation - Guest Editor: Hiroshi Ohno

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Inoue, Y., Shimojo, N. Microbiome/microbiota and allergies. Semin Immunopathol 37, 57–64 (2015).

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  • Microbiome
  • Microbiota
  • Dysbiosis
  • Allergy
  • Probiotics
  • Prebiotics