Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Allergy and Microbes

Gut bacteria in infants with cow's milk allergy differ from those without

10 February 2019

Allergy and Microbes

With the prevalence of food allergies on the rise, understanding what contributes to them is of growing importance. Now researchers have begun to get a handle on the possible biological underpinnings, showing that cow’s milk allergy – not to be confused with lactose intolerance – is influenced by the bacteria (shown here in red) present in the gut (blue and green). Cow’s milk allergy commonly affects infants and often manifests as blood in the stool (much to the horror of parents). Scientists have discovered that the gut bacteria of babies with such allergies differ to those of healthy infants. Furthermore, while gut bacteria from healthy human babies could, when transferred to mice with an equivalent allergy, protect the animals from developing allergic reactions, bacteria from babies with cow’s milk allergies could not. The findings suggest that rather than being passive passengers, bugs in the gut actively shape the host’s immune system.

Written by Ruth Williams

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