The article “The microbial environment and its influence on asthma prevention in early life” by Erika von Mutius presents and develops the current perspective that contextual factors are key in the development, or inhibition, of this respiratory affection. A microbiome with great diversity leads to a better immune system maturation, counterbalancing the different occasions for the development of this condition. Having a rich mibrobiome may also lead to less allergy-related problems, as both of these respiratory diseases may be fought off against better when there is a diversity of microbes and pathogens in the air, leading to better skin, mucosal and gut responses.
There is still very little known about the interaction between the environmental microbiome and the internal human one. Nevertheless, farm children tend to have less respiratory maladies than people from other environments. Research has found that they also have a richer gut and lung microbiome, which may be produced by their early interaction to an external world that is filled with pathogens and viruses, leading their immune system to reach a greater maturity. Regarding urban environments, the presence of different animals, such as cockroaches, cats and mice, were found to reduce the prevelance of respiratory symptoms when children were exposed within the first year. Von Mutius writes that “the presence, identity, and activities of home occupants are significant determinants of indoor bacterial composition” (p. 681). Furthermore, dampness in homes was linked to increasing asthma development.
This process is so complex, that a careful analysis of both the environmental and the human microbiome, including transcriptomis, metabolomics and geneomics technologies, will be needed in order to establish the asthma- and allergy-producing link between the two. If the elements necessary to prevent these respiratory affections in the microbiome were to be determined, scientists would be able to establish innovative preventive methods in order to hinder the development of both of these respiratory ailments.
von Mutius, Erika. (2016.) “The microbial environment and its influence on asthma prevention in early life.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 137(3), 680-689.