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Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology

, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 83–97 | Cite as

Microbiota and Food Allergy

  • Shang-An Shu
  • Agatha W. T. Yuen
  • Elena Woo
  • Ka-Hou Chu
  • Hoi-Shan Kwan
  • Guo-Xiang Yang
  • Yao Yang
  • Patrick S. C. LeungEmail author
Article

Abstract

Emerging evidence suggests that the increasing prevalence of food allergies is associated with compositional and functional changes in our gut microbiota. Microbiota-host interactions play a key role in regulating the immune system. Development of a healthy gut microbiota and immune system occurs early in life and is largely shaped by exposure to maternal microbes through vaginal/natural delivery and breast milk, whereas use of antibiotics can disrupt gut homeostasis and significantly raise the risk of allergic diseases. Thus, changes in the quantity or diversity of gut microbes affect oral toleranace through interations of microbial molecules with pattern recognition receptors on immune cells and confer susceptibility to food allergies. On the other hand, short chain fatty acids which are fermentation end products of insoluble fibers by intestinal micoorganisms have been shown to confer protective effects on food allergy. As a preventive and therapeutic treatment for food allergies, probiotics have gained widespread attention in recent years. Reintroducing certain commensal microbes, such as Clostridia, both in animal models and clinical trials led to the prevention or resolution of allergic symptoms. This review highlights recent progress in our understanding of the gut microbiota’s role in food allergy. However, mechanistic details underlying the anti-allergic effects of probiotics and the interaction between the gut microbiota and the immune system remain circumstantial and are not fully understood. Future studies should address possible factors and underlying mechanisms for microbiota-host interactions and gut immunity, as well as the efficacy, safety, and appropriate use of probiotics in establishing a standard treatment regimen for food allergies.

Keywords

Hygiene hypothesis Microbe-host interactions Intestinal microbiota Food antigens Tolerance Probiotics Short-chain fatty acids 

Abbreviations

Ags

antigens

BB

Bifidobacterium infantis

BLG

anti-β-lactoglobulin

CMA

cow’s milk allergy

CMP

cow milk protein

DCs

dendritic cells

E/B

enterobacteriaceae and bacterioidaceae ratio

EHCF

extensively hydrolyzed casein formula

FAO

Food and Agriculture Organization

GALTs

gut-associated lymphoid tissues

GPRs

G protein-couple receptors

ILT

immunoglobulin-like transcript

IP

intraperitoneally

LcS

Lactobacillus casei strain shirota (LcS)

OVA-TCR-Tg

ovalbumin-specific t cell receptor transgenic mice

LAB

lactic acid bacteria

LGG

Lactobacillus GG

LPS

lipopolysaccharides

MLNs

mesenteric lymph nodes

OM

outer membrane

PRRs

pattern-recognition receptors

PUFAs

polyunsaturated fatty acids

RA

retinoic acid

SCFAs

short-chain fatty acids

sIgA

secretory IgA

TLRs

toll-like receptors

Tregs

regulatory T cells

WHO

World Health Organization

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Rheumatology/Allergy and Clinical Immunology, School of MedicineThe University of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.School of Life SciencesThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong SAR, China
  3. 3.Department of Food Science and Technology, Jinling CollegeNanjing Normal UniversityNanjingChina

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