Perinatal programming of asthma: the role of gut microbiota

Clin Dev Immunol. 2012;2012:932072. doi: 10.1155/2012/932072. Epub 2011 Nov 3.


Perinatal programming, a dominant theory for the origins of cardiovascular disease, proposes that environmental stimuli influence developmental pathways during critical periods of prenatal and postnatal development, inducing permanent changes in metabolism. In this paper, we present evidence for the perinatal programming of asthma via the intestinal microbiome. While epigenetic mechanisms continue to provide new explanations for the programming hypothesis of asthma development, it is increasingly apparent that the intestinal microbiota plays an independent and potentially interactive role. Commensal gut bacteria are essential to immune system development, and exposures disrupting the infant gut microbiota have been linked to asthma. This paper summarizes the recent findings that implicate caesarean delivery, breastfeeding, perinatal stress, probiotics, and antibiotics as modifiers of infant gut microbiota in the development of asthma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / embryology*
  • Asthma / genetics
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Asthma / microbiology
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Fetus
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intestines / embryology
  • Intestines / immunology*
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Metagenome
  • Symbiosis