New paper from PILOT member Stephan Rosshart
A recent paper from a international team of scientists, including PILOT member Stephan Rosshart, calls into question the notion that early-life exposure to microbes protects against the development of allergies. This notion - the so-called "hygiene hypothesis" - has been cited as a possible explanation for the increase in allergic disorders in many developed countries in recent decades, despite the lack of evidence for a causal link.
The team behind the recent paper used experimental "wildling" mice to examine how lifelong microbial exposure affects the development of allergic inflammation. Wildling mice are housed in semi-natural conditions and are therefore exposed to a wide range of naturally occurring microbes compared to typical, specific pathogen–free mice. According to the hygiene hypothesis, the wildlings should therefore be less likely to develop inflammatory responses to allergens.
However, the scientists found that this was not the case: wildlings' increased microbial biodiversity did not protect against allergic inflammation and they mounted robust allergic responses to incoming allergens, shedding new light on the hygiene hypothesis.
Congratulations to the whole team!