Alterations in the gut microbiome during infancy are linked to allergies. In a recent study, scientists discover specific gut bacteria strains that act as protection, re-establishing food allergy tolerance. Nature Medicine
The study collected fecal samples from 56 infants with allergies every 4 to 6 months and compared the microbial contents to the fecal microbiota of 98 infants without allergies. The healthy and allergic fecal microbiotas were then transferred to a group of mice allergic to eggs – one group of mice received the microbiota from the healthy infants and the other from the allergic infants. Those mice receiving the “healthy” microbiota were more protected against the egg allergy than those receiving the “allergic” microbiota.
In addition, scientists identified 6 beneficial gut bacteria strains associated with food allergy protection from the Clostridiales and Bacteroidetes families, then administered an oral formulation of these strains to mice and infants. Those receiving the oral probiotics were protected against food allergies, and these bacteria showed the ability to re-establish a normal immune response, as opposed to an allergic one, to food allergens.
Takeaway: By analyzing the changes experienced on an immunological level in both mice and infants, scientists found that the beneficial bacteria strains target two key pathways that increase T cells, regulating immune system cells that promote tolerant immune responses. Scientists are hopeful that these protective gut bacteria strains may help in preventing food allergies, as well as reversing existing allergies.