Infant Gut Microbiome Linked to Allergic Predisposition

Christine Cole Johnson, PhD, MPH Senior Staff Epidemiologist & Henry Ford Distinguished Scientist Department Chair Department of Public Health Sciences Henry Ford Hospital and Health System Detroit Michigan MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Christine Cole Johnson, PhD, MPH
Senior Staff Epidemiologist & Henry Ford Distinguished Scientist
Department Chair Department of Public Health Sciences
Henry Ford Hospital and Health System Detroit Michigan

 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Johnson: Our research group is focused on the environmental and infant gut microbiomes. We are interested in studying what environmental, lifestyle and behavioral factors affect the microbial community of the baby’s gastrointestinal tract, and how that microbial community composition affects the development of allergic disorders. We have been following a birth cohort called WHEALS in Detroit and its suburbs since 2003, collecting data on potential risk and preventive factors as well as environmental samples and stool samples from the babies. We have used sequencing of the v4 region of the 16s rRNA gene, common and unique to all bacteria, to develop a fingerprint of the bacterial community in the stool samples.

We have found that many variables shown in the past by ourselves and others to allergic disorders are associated with different types of bacterial communities, such as breastfeeding, mode of delivery, first born status, socioeconomic status, pets in the home, levels of endotoxin in the home, and environmental tobacco smoke. Current breastfeeding is the most important variable at both 1 and 6 months, and at one month, mode of delivery is next most important. Endotoxin levels in house dust samples, a crude marker of bacteria levels, are important at 1 month but even more important at 6 months.

We also found that certain bacterial community patterns in the baby’s gut impact whether or not they have parental-reported allergic symptoms when exposed to cats and dogs when the children are about 4 years of age.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Johnson: One of the key factors underlying optimal immune development, what ties it all together, may be the infant’s gut microbial community: its composition and how it assembles in the first months of life. Many factors likely affect the establishment and maturation of this microbial community, with eventual possibilities for intervention and primary prevention of allergic disorders.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Johnson: Next steps include identifying what bacteria may be “keystone” in the bacterial ecology. We also are looking at the role of such bacteria in the human baby: how do they function and what do they do? How do they act in concert? The eventual goal will be to describe the “ideal” microbiome and develop interventions to help babies acquire such an optimal bacterial community ecology.

Citation:

Abstracts presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in Houston Texas February 2015.

The Infant Gut Microbiome Mediates the Association between Breastfeeding and Allergic-like Response to Pets in Children and

Alexandra R. Sitarik, MS et all

Breastfeeding Is Associated with Infant Gut Microbial Composition
Kyra J. Jones, Med et al

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Christine Cole Johnson, PhD, MP (2015). Infant Gut Microbiome Linked to Allergic Predisposition MedicalResearch.com