New clues for allergy prevention by breast milk

New clues for allergy prevention by breast milk

Written by Akila Rekima and the University of Western Australia. For the full UWA press release, click here.

Akila Rekima from The University of Western Australia. Photos credit: Ross Swanborough.

A research team at UWA is investigating the complex interactions of breast milk with allergens and baby’s gut immune system.

They’ve found that food-derived but also airborne allergens are present in breast milk. Some do give protection and reduce allergies later in life. Their preclinical data and human birth cohorts analysis strongly suggest that egg-derived allergen protect against egg allergy. But they’ve also found that other allergens in breast milk such as house dust mite derived allergens may interfere with protection from allergies.

“We are now investigating how to counteract the ability of house dust mite allergens in breast milk to disturb early life immunity “ says Akila Rekima.

Breast milk is the physiological diet for the mammalian newborns and provides the baby with strong defences to fight infectious disease. It also contains numerous factors that influence the development of the immune system of the newborn.

Thereby it is a very promising way to educate child immune system towards acceptance of allergens and confer low allergy susceptibility.

By elucidating which factors in breastmilk are protective for allergy and how to modulate them, the researchers want to give the child the best chance to be protected from allergy by breast milk.

“The very good news from this study is the highlight of an unexpected and promising target to enhance allergy prevention by breastfeeding, i.e House dust mite allergens” says Akila.

Future research will need to find out which maternal or environmental intervention could mitigate the armful properties of House dust mite allergens.

Feature photo by Laura Garcia.

Further reading:

  • A. Rekima, C. Bonnart, J. Metcalfe, P. Macchiaverni1, M.K. Tulic, N. Halloin, S. Rekima, J. Genuneit, S. Zanelli, S. Medeiro, D. J. Palmer, S. Prescott, V.Verhasselt (J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2020). A role for early oral exposure to house dust mite allergens through breastmilk in IgE-mediated food allergy susceptibility
  • Baïz N, Macchiaverni P, Tulic MK, Rekima A, Annesi-Maesano I, Verhasselt V; EDEN mother-child cohort study group. Early oral exposure to house dust mite allergen through breast milk: a potential risk factor for allergic sensitization and respiratory allergies in children. (J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016)
  • Macchiaverni P*, Rekima A*, Turfkruyer M, Mascarell L, Airouche S, Moingeon P, Adel-Patient K, Condino-Neto A, Annesi-Maesano I, Prescott SL, Tulic MK, Verhasselt V. (Allergy. 2014) * co- first author. Respiratory allergen from house dust mite is present in human milk and primes for allergic sensitization in a mouse model of asthma.

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