The human microbiome, asthma, and allergy

Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2015 Dec 10;11:35. doi: 10.1186/s13223-015-0102-0. eCollection 2015.


The human microbiome can be defined as the microorganisms that reside within and on our bodies and how they interact with the environment. Recent research suggests that numerous mutually beneficial interactions occur between a human and their microbiome, including those that are essential for good health. Modern microbiological detection techniques have contributed to new knowledge about microorganisms in their human environment. These findings reveal that the microbiomes of the lung and gut contribute to the pathogenesis of asthma and allergy. For example, evidence indicates that the microbiome of the gut regulates the activities of helper T cell subsets (Th1 and Th2) that affect the development of immune tolerance. Moreover, recent studies demonstrate differences between the lung microbiomes of healthy and asthmatic subjects. The hygiene and biodiversity hypotheses explain how exposure to microorganisms is associated with asthma and allergy. Although those living in developed countries are exposed to fewer and less diverse microorganisms compared with the inhabitants of developing countries, they are experiencing an increase in the incidence of asthma and allergies. Detailed analyses of the human microbiome, as are being conducted under the auspices of the Human Microbiome Project initiated in 2007, promise to contribute insights into the mechanisms and factors that cause asthma and allergy that may lead to the development of strategies to prevent and treat these diseases.

Keywords: Allergy; Asthma; Microbiome.

Publication types

  • Review