Biodiversity loss may cause increase in allergies and asthma

Declining biodiversity may be contributing to the rise of asthma, allergies, and other chronic inflammatory diseases among people living in cities worldwide, a Finnish study suggests. Emerging evidence indicates that commensal microbes inhabiting the skin, airway, and gut protect against inflammatory disorders. However, little is known about the environmental determinants of the microbiome.

Ilkka Hanski et al. from the Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, investigated whether reduced human contact with nature and biodiversity influences the composition of commensal skin bacteria and allergen sensitivity in a random sample of 118 teenagers living in eastern Finland. The authors found that subjects living on farms or near forests had more diverse bacteria on their skin and lower allergen sensitivity than individuals living in areas with less environmental biodiversity, such as urban areas or near bodies of water.

Furthermore, allergen-sensitive individuals had lower diversity of one class bacteria, gammaproteobacteria, on their skin than healthy study subjects. The presence of one gammaproteobacterial member, Acinetobacter, was associated with the expression of the anti-inflammatory marker IL-10 in the blood of healthy study subjects. That suggested to the authors that gammaproteobacteria in the skin may enhance . The findings suggest that the increasing prevalence of inflammatory diseases may be associated with the changing biodiversity of the environment and commensal .

More information: Environmental biodiversity, human microbiota and allergy are interrelated, Ilkka Hanski et al. PNAS.

Related Stories

Stress may make you itch

date Oct 27, 2008

Current research suggests that stress may activate immune cells in your skin, resulting in inflammatory skin disease. The related report by Joachim et al., "Stress-induced Neurogenic Inflammation in Murine Skin Skews Dendritic ...

What else may probiotics do in adults?

date May 20, 2008

Probiotic bacteria, defined as living microorganisms that have beneficial effects on human health, have mostly been studied in the prevention and treatment of different gastrointestinal diseases and allergies. Probiotic products, ...

Recommended for you

Protein linked to development of asthma

date Feb 20, 2015

Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) have linked a specific protein to the development of post-viral infection asthma, which is the first step in generating a novel type of asthma therapy designed to prevent ...

Researchers offer new target for treating asthma

date Feb 18, 2015

Researchers have found a potential new target for treating asthma, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus and published in the journal Nature Co ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.