A class of bacteria that is normally found within the human gut appears to offer very promising new hope for peanut allergy sufferers. Clostridia is a common class of bacteria found in a healthy mammalian gut, but this bacteria is easily killed off with antibiotic use in early childhood. Cathryn Nagler, an immunologist at the University of Chicago in Illinois, and a team of researchers tested the role that this bacteria might have in food allergies.
Clostridia is also found in the guts of mice, and Nagler says that the bacteria appears to keep mice protected from developing peanut sensitization- the mouse equivalent of a peanut allergy. Peanut allergy sufferers may soon be trying a novel treatment, because according to Nagler’s research, once is reestablished within the gut of a mouse with peanut sensitization, the allergy symptoms went away. Nagler’s team reported their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The research fits neatly into an emerging paradigm that helps explain a recent alarming increase in food allergies and other conditions, such as obesity and autoimmune disease, and hints at strategies to reverse the trend.”
The average child in the United States takes three courses of antibiotics within the first two years of life, according to Martin Blaser, a microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at New York University. Often, antibiotics are given for viral infections that can not be killed with antibiotics or bacterial infections that the child could fight off without antibiotics.
The team reported that other healthy bacteria did not show the same promising effect in the allergy-prone mice.
Clostridia interacted with particular immune cells that help keep peanut proteins out of the bloodstream. “These bacteria are very abundant and they reside very close to the epithelial lining, so they’re in intimate contact with the immune system,” Nagler said. “The bacteria are maintaining the integrity of the [gut] barrier.”
Time Magazine reported:
“Every round of antibiotics a person takes will wipe out strains of bacteria inside the body, some of which are eliminated forever. Considering how early and how often antibiotics are administered to kids—coupled with our increasingly antimicrobial lifestyles—we’ve become more prone to allergies and other ailments, the hygiene hypothesis goes. There’s no cure for food allergies, just lifestyle adjustments and abstention.”
The team hopes the findings might lead to a probiotic consisting of the bacteria that could be used to treat peanut allergy sufferers.
[Photo via Wiki Commons]