Maternal signals for progeny prevention against allergy and asthma

Marsh, Leigh; Pfefferle, Petra; Pinkenburg, Olaf; Renz, Harald
June 2011
Cellular & Molecular Life Sciences;Jun2011, Vol. 68 Issue 11, p1851
Academic Journal
llergy and asthma are chronic inflammatory diseases which result from complex gene-environment interactions. Recent evidence indicates the importance of prenatal and postnatal developmental processes in terms of maturation of balanced immune responses. According to the current view, gene-environment interactions during a restricted time frame are responsible for programming of the immune system in favor of allergic immune mechanisms later in life. The interaction between genes and environment is complex and only partially understood; however, heritable epigenetic modifications including chemical additions in and alternative packaging of the DNA have been shown to play a crucial role in this context. Novel data indicate that epigenetic mechanisms contribute to the development of T-helper cell function. Environmental factors, including diesel exhaust particles (DEP), vitamins and tobacco smoke, operate through such mechanisms. Furthermore, the role of environmental microbes provides another and maybe even more important group of exogenous exposures which operates in this critical time frame.


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