Friday, September 7, 2007

Mold / Antibiotics Linked to Asthma, Allergies

If allergies are making your life unbearable, the real culprit might not be your congested head; it could be the microbes in your gut.

Scientists from the University of Michigan Medical School presented findings from studies that involved laboratory mice. Results showed that antibiotics might be responsible for producing changes in microbes in the gastrointestinal tract, which in turn could impact the way the immune system responds to common allergens in the lungs.

Gary B. Huffnagle, associate professor of internal medicine, stated that antibiotics got rid of bacteria in the gut, which enabled fungi to take control until the bacteria grew back after the antibiotics were discontinued.

Researchers explained the relationship between the gastrointestinal, respiratory and immune system in the body by describing how with each inhalation, pollen and dust particles are trapped and enter the stomach with the production of saliva and mucus created as you swallow.

In other experiments, scientists found that fungi produced oxylipins, which are molecules that could determine the kind and severity level of immune responses. This supported the idea that fungal oxylipins in the GI tract helped avoid the production of regulatory T cells for ingested allergens. This caused T cells in the respiratory system to become susceptible to common allergens such as mold spores and pollen.

These factors combined result in a hyperactive immune response, which could result in allergy symptoms and in some cases, asthma.

This hypothesis was tested on mice who were administered oral antibiotics for five days and then given one oral introduction of the yeast called Candida albicans, which was used to reproduce a steady group of microbes in both the gastrointestinal system and intestines.

Findings from the study include:
The mice were injected with common mold spores two days after the antibiotics were stopped and possible allergic side effects were evaluated with both groups of mice, those that were given the antibiotic and those that were not.
The mice that were given antibiotics and exposed to C. albicans displayed higher rates of pulmonary hypersensitivity to A. fumigatus as opposed to the mice that weren't given any antibiotics.
Based on these findings, researchers concluded the changes to both the growth of bacteria and fungi within the GI tract disrupted the function of the regulatory T cells to lessen the immune system reaction to respiratory allergens. Researchers expressed hope that by learning how microflora in the GI tract impacted the immune system might hold the key to treating allergies with dietary changes or through taking probiotics, dietary supplements responsible for producing "healthy" bacteria, in order to regulate the microbes in the gut.

Researchers stressed the importance of following a nutritious diet complete with an abundance of raw fruits and vegetables after taking antibiotics as a way to speed up the process of bringing the microbes in the GI tract back to healthy levels.



Boston-Biosafety Cares

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