Summary of the Keystone Symposium "Origins of allergic disease: Microbial, epithelial and immune interactions," March 24-27, Tahoe City, California

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2020 Apr;145(4):1072-1081.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2019.11.048. Epub 2020 Jan 8.


The aims of the Keystone Symposium conference, "Origins of allergic disease: Microbial, epithelial and immune interactions" were to present and discuss potential microbial-epithelial-immune interactions underlying the early-life origins of allergic disorders, as well as immune mechanisms that might suggest novel disease prevention or intervention strategies. Cross-talk and sharing of ideas among participating experts in basic science and clinical aspects of allergic diseases provided substantial insight into the concept of allergic disorders as a systems disease. The overriding message distilled from the discussions was that damage to epithelial surfaces lies at the origin of the various manifestations of allergic disease. The epithelium of the lungs, gut, and skin, which operates as a critical sensor of environmental stimuli, is besieged by an onslaught of contemporary environmental forces including an altered microbiome, air pollution, food allergens in a changed diet, and chemicals in modern detergents. Collectively, this onslaught leads to alterations of lung, skin, or gut epithelial surfaces, driving a type 2 immune response that underlies most, if not all, of the atopic diseases. Possible remedies for treatment and prevention of allergic diseases were discussed, including a precision medicine approach using biologics, oral desensitization, targeted gut microbiome alterations, and behavior alteration.

Keywords: Atopic dermatitis; asthma; epithelial barrier; food allergy; microbiome.

Publication types

  • Congress
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Asthma / metabolism
  • Desensitization, Immunologic / methods*
  • Epithelium / immunology*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Hypersensitivity / microbiology
  • Microbiota / immunology*
  • United States


  • Allergens