99th Dahlem Conference on Infection, Inflammation and Chronic Inflammatory Disorders: The role of infections in allergy: atopic asthma as a paradigm

Authors

  • P. G. Holt,

    1. Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, and Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
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  • A. H. J. Van Den Biggelaar

    1. Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, and Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
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  • Special Editors: Stefan Ehlers & Stefan H. E. Kaufmann

P. G. Holt, Division of Cell Biology, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, PO Box 855, West Perth, WA 6872, Australia.
E-mail: patrick@ichr.uwa.edu.au

Summary

Earlier iterations of the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, in which infections during childhood protect against allergic disease by stimulation of the T helper type 2 (Th2)-antagonistic Th1 immunity, have been supplanted progressively by a broader understanding of the complexities of the underlying cellular and molecular interactions. Most notably, it is now clear that whole certain types of microbial exposure, in particular from normal gastrointestinal flora, may provide key signals driving postnatal development of immune competence, including mechanisms responsible for natural resistance to allergic sensitization. Other types of infections can exert converse effects and promote allergic disease. We review below recent findings relating to both sides of this complex picture.

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