After birth, the intestinal immune system enters a critical developmental stage, in which tolerogenic and pro-inflammatory cells emerge to contribute to the overall health of the host. The neonatal health is continuously challenged by microbial colonization and food intake, first in the form of breast milk or formula and later in the form of solid food. The microbiota and dietary compounds shape the newborn immune system, which acquires the ability to induce tolerance against innocuous antigens or induce pro-inflammatory immune responses against pathogens. Disruption of these homeostatic mechanisms might lead to undesired immune reactions, such as food allergies and inflammatory bowel disease. Hence, a proper education and maturation of the intestinal immune system is likely important to maintain life-long intestinal homeostasis. In this review, the most recent literature regarding the effects of dietary compounds in the development of the intestinal immune system are discussed.
Keywords: breast milk; dietary compounds; intestinal immunity; microbiota; oral tolerance.