Infants and children exposed to specific pathogens develop healthier immune systems in their lifetime. Within the medical field, the Hygiene Hypothesis supports “the need” for infants and children to be exposed to parasites, infectious agents, as well as symbiotic microorganisms. With the advancement of medical science, children are being exposed to fewer diseases and pathogens which directly affects immune health.
What are Microbiomes?
Microbiomes are a collection of microorganisms which reside in body spaces. They are on the surface of the skin, in the deep layers of the body, and found within the digestive system. The gut microbiomes found in the intestines play a significant role in immune wellness.
Worldwide Research Project
A massive research project is taking place, known as the DIAMIMMUNE study. Organizations involved in the study include Aalto Univ., Broad Institute, Univ. of Helsinki, and Novartis. The main focus of this study group is examining infant gut microbiomes and their relation to immune health. Within different countries, the gut microbiomes of infants and small children were studied, while researchers found a direct relation to immune health.
During the microbiome evaluation study, stool samples were taken monthly from infants in a number of countries. Bacteria were identified and quantified concerning the gut microbiomes. Lab tests and feedback questionnaires were also used within the research. Extensive evaluation of the data was used to determine the link between diseases and microbiome differences.
Gut microbiomes in infants from Finland and Estonia held higher concentrations of the Bacteroides species while the microbiomes from Russian infants held massive amounts of Bifidobacterium. According to Vatanen, the differences seen may be a result of the implications occurring “within the population” itself. Children in diverse populations are exposed to different pathogens and disease processes.
LPS (lipopolysaccharide) is well known for triggering the immune system, and it is also commonly used in lab experiments to stimulate immune cells. Additional group research finds not all LPS are created the same. The professors found LPS from E. Coli lived in the infant guts of children (from a number of countries). They believe this particular LPS is considered “immune educating” which “trains” the immune system early on in life.
Further investigation is needed in the area of microbiomes and their impact on the health of individuals. Researchers desire to learn more about why some microorganisms dominate the gut in children from different countries. Future plans in research will include more geographical locations. The connection between microbiomes and immune disorders is strongly applicable to future health.