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Keywords:

  • allergens;
  • early life;
  • immune system;
  • micronutrients;
  • pathogens

Nutrients exert unique regulatory effects in the perinatal period that mold the developing immune system. The interactions of micronutrients and microbial and environmental antigens condition the post-birth maturation of the immune system, influencing reactions to allergens, fostering tolerance towards the emerging gastrointestinal flora and ingested antigens, and defining patterns of host defense against potential pathogens. The shared molecular structures that are present on microbes or certain plants, but not expressed by human cells, are recognized by neonatal innate immune receptors. Exposure to these activators in the environment through dietary intake in early life can modify the immune response to allergens and prime the adaptive immune response towards pathogens that express the corresponding molecular structures.