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Microbial Effects on Asthma

Two reviews came out recently by Mutius et al and Smits et al discussing the link between microbes and asthma. Sadly, they are not open access. Both reviews suggest that exposure to microbially rich environments helps build the immune response and inflammation systems. The Mutius et al paper drew from research conducted on urban environmental microbiology using DNA fingerprinting to characterize indoor and outdoor dust, lung microbiome data suggesting that the air we breathe might introduce microbes that colonize our lungs, gut microbiome data that might be connected to the respiratory system, and how the microbial environment might affect the development of asthma. The Smits et al paper focuses more on the hygiene hypothesis element of the interactions and lists some ways in which we can use this knowledge to decrease asthma instances (while admonishing there is a lot of research that still needs to be done to use the current data in a way that has a clear health benefit, and that asthma will continue to be difficult to treat or cure).

According to the reviews, the Amish and Europeans who live on farms tend to have lower instances of asthma than their urban counterparts. Photo via Flickr under public domain license.
According to the reviews, the Amish and Europeans who live on farms tend to have lower instances of asthma than their urban counterparts. Photo via Flickr under public domain license.
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Alex Alexiev

Alex Alexiev is a recent UC Davis graduate with a BS in microbiology working in Jonathan Eisen’s lab on aquariums as part of the microbiology of the built environment.

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