Do regulatory antibodies offer an alternative mechanism to explain the hygiene hypothesis?

Abstract

The 'hygiene hypothesis', or lack of microbial and parasite exposure during early life, is postulated as an explanation for the recent increase in autoimmune and allergic diseases in developed countries. The favored mechanism is that microbial and parasite-derived products interact directly with pathogen recognition receptors to subvert proinflammatory signaling via T regulatory cells, thereby inducing anti-inflammatory effects and control of autoimmune disease. Parasites, such as helminths, are considered to have a major role in the induction of immune regulatory mechanisms among children living in developing countries. Invoking Occam's razor, we believe we can select an alternative mechanism to explain the hygiene hypothesis, based on antibody-mediated inhibition of immune responses that may more simply explain the available evidence.

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