Allergic diseases now affect over 30% of individuals in many communities, particularly young children, underscoring the need for effective prevention strategies in early life. These allergic conditions have been linked to environmental and lifestyle changes driving the dysfunction of three interdependent biological systems: microbiota, epithelial barrier and immune system. While this is multifactorial, dietary changes are of particular interest in the altered establishment and maturation of the microbiome, including the associated profile of metabolites that modulate immune development and barrier function. Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that beneficially influence the health of the host by 1) acting as a fermentable substrate for some specific commensal host bacteria leading to the release of short-chain fatty acids in the gut intestinal tract influencing many molecular and cellular processes; 2) acting directly on several compartments and specifically on different patterns of cells (epithelial and immune cells). Nutrients with prebiotic properties are therefore of central interest in allergy prevention for their potential to promote a more tolerogenic environment through these multiple pathways. Both observational studies and experimental models lend further credence to this hypothesis. In this review, we describe both the mechanisms and the therapeutic evidence from preclinical and clinical studies exploring the role of prebiotics in allergy prevention.
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