Asthma and atopy, classically associated with hyper-activation of the T helper 2 (Th2) arm of adaptive immunity, are among the most common chronic illnesses worldwide. Emerging evidence relates atopy and asthma to the composition and function of the human microbiome, the collection of microbes that reside in and on and interact with the human body. The ability to interrogate microbial ecology of the human host is due in large part to recent technological developments that permit identification of microbes and their products using culture-independent molecular detection techniques. In this review we explore the roles of respiratory, gut, and environmental microbiomes in asthma and allergic disease development, manifestation, and attenuation. Though still a relatively nascent field of research, evidence to date suggests that the airway and/or gut microbiome may represent fertile targets for prevention or management of allergic asthma and other diseases in which adaptive immune dysfunction is a prominent feature.
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