The Role of the Microbiome in Food Allergy: A Review
Baylor College of Medicine, Section of Pediatric Immunology, Allergy and Retrovirology, Houston, TX 77030 USA
Texas Children’s Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Immunology, Allergy and Retrovirology, Houston, TX 77030, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Children 2020, 7(6), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/children7060050
Received: 29 April 2020 / Revised: 14 May 2020 / Accepted: 17 May 2020 / Published: 26 May 2020
Food allergies are common and estimated to affect 8% of children and 11% of adults in the United States. They pose a significant burden—physical, economic and social—to those affected. There is currently no available cure for food allergies. Emerging evidence suggests that the microbiome contributes to the development and manifestations of atopic disease. According to the hygiene hypothesis, children growing up with older siblings have a lower incidence of allergic disease compared with children from smaller families, due to their early exposure to microbes in the home. Research has also demonstrated that certain environmental exposures, such as a farming environment, during early life are associated with a diverse bacterial experience and reduced risk of allergic sensitization. Dysregulation in the homeostatic interaction between the host and the microbiome or gut dysbiosis appears to precede the development of food allergy, and the timing of such dysbiosis is critical. The microbiome affects food tolerance via the secretion of microbial metabolites (e.g., short chain fatty acids) and the expression of microbial cellular components. Understanding the biology of the microbiome and how it interacts with the host to maintain gut homeostasis is helpful in developing smarter therapeutic approaches. There are ongoing trials evaluating the benefits of probiotics and prebiotics, for the prevention and treatment of atopic diseases to correct the dysbiosis. However, the routine use of probiotics as an intervention for preventing allergic disease is not currently recommended. A new approach in microbial intervention is to attempt a more general modification of the gut microbiome, such as with fecal microbiota transplantation. Developing targeted bacterial therapies for food allergy may be promising for both the treatment and prevention of food allergy. Similarly, fecal microbiota transplantation is being explored as a potentially beneficial interventional approach. Overall, targeted bacterial therapies for food allergy may be promising for both the treatment and prevention of food allergy.