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Clinical & Experimental Allergy

Do immune responses to inhaled skin flakes modulate the expression of allergic disease?

Authors

  • E. R. Tovey,

    1. The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, NSW, Australia,
    2. Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia,
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  • A. S. Kemp,

    1. Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia,
    2. The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW, Australia,
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  • C. Almqvist,

    1. The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, NSW, Australia,
    2. The Department of Woman and Child Health and Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
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  • A. Sharland,

    1. The Collaborative Transplant Research Group, Bosch Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
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  • G. B. Marks

    1. The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, NSW, Australia,
    2. Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia,
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Correspondence:
Euan Tovey, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Rm 461 Blackburn Building DO6, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
E-mail: ert@med.usyd.edu.au

Summary

We examine the nature of the immune responses to inhaled skin particles and query whether early exposure could play a role in providing protection against the development of allergic disease. Currently, the main hypothesis used to explain environmental modulation of allergic diseases, the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, is linked exclusively to microbial exposures acting upon the innate immune system. However, many of the exposures sustaining this hypothesis also involve co-exposure to skin flakes from humans or animals. Such skin flakes contain a complex mixture of antigens, glycolipids and small peptides that may induce immune responses. Should these responses prove relevant to the modulation of allergic diseases, it provides new opportunities to better understand the epidemic of allergic disease and to develop new interventions for its prevention.

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