Novel Immunomodulatory Strategies for the Prevention of Atopy and Asthma

  • Susan L. Prescott
Part of the Allergy Frontiers book series (ALLERGY, volume 5)

As asthma and allergic diseases reach epidemic proportions, there is an urgent need to identify early the logical targets for strategies to reverse this trend. The frequent onset of disease within the first months of life necessitates early interventions. While it has been well recognized that allergic disease is multifactorial, conventional allergy prevention strategies have largely centered around avoidance of allergens and irritants with disappointing results. More recently, there has been a shift in focus to the role of immunomodulatory factors both as aetiologic factors and as possible avenues of early treatment and/or prevention [88].

Preliminary studies suggest that other environmental exposures (such as infection [1], maternal diet [2, 3], and smoking [3, 4]) can modify early immune function, although the mechanisms are not clear (Fig. 1). While potential genetic polymorphisms are of great importance in understanding the complex gene-environmental interactions during this period, genomic programming cannot account for the rising rates of disease. There has been a consequential shift in interest to environmental factors that may influence early immune development potentially through epige-netic modification in gene expression. This includes potentially environment-driven changes in the patterns of DNA methylation in proximal gene promoters, chromatin remodeling, histone modifications, and/or non-coding RNA interactions that can alter the patterns of gene expression and clinical phenotype (Fig. 1) [89].


Atopic Dermatitis Allergic Disease Allergy Clin Immunol Sublingual Immunotherapy Maternal Vitamin 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan L. Prescott
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School Paediatrics and Child Health ResearchUniversity of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  2. 2.Princess Margaret HospitalPerthAustralia

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