The epidemic of allergy and asthma

Nature. 1999 Nov 25;402(6760 Suppl):B2-4. doi: 10.1038/35037000.


Allergic diseases, such as asthma, rhinitis, eczema and food allergies, are reaching epidemic proportions in both the developed and developing world. Key factors driving these rising trends are increased exposure to sensitizing allergens and reduced stimulation of the immune system during critical periods of development. In allergic disease, there is a polarization of T-lymphocyte responses, and enhanced secretion of cytokines involved in regulation of immunoglobulin E, mast cells, basophils and eosinophils, ultimately leading to inflammation and disease. A clear understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of allergic disease and the complex interplay between genetic and environmental factors will undoubtedly create new opportunities for public health and therapeutic interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology


  • Immunoglobulin E