The key bacterial species and mechanisms by which they modulate allergic disease development

Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research/AllerGen Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award

A major focus for mucosal immunology research has been on the types of bacteria that reside in the mammalian intestinal tract. These bacteria are collectively referred to as the microbiota. Disrupting the microbiota composition by antibiotic use has been linked to the development of allergic disease in both human populations and mouse models.

Mice treated with antibiotics early in life acquire an altered microbiota and signs of asthma in a mouse model of allergy. We seek to identify key bacterial species within the microbiota that affect allergy in this mouse model.

Additionally, we plan to explore whether antibiotic treatment affects cells of the immune system. A high level of one particular kind of antibodies (IgE) is associated with allergic asthma development in humans, and treating mice with antibiotics results in high levels of IgE. We will test whether changing IgE levels in mice changes their sensitization to allergens.

If antibiotic use is linked to allergy development, understanding how could allow researchers to develop strategies to soften this effect.