Differences in allergy incidence between the two sides of the Finnish-Russian border might have something to do with exposure to environmental microbes.
“The immune system [is] a learning system,” [immunologist Graham] Rook tells The Scientist. “Unless you put the data in, it can’t function correctly.”
In the Finnish skin swab samples, “we saw children living in the countryside surround by forest and green area were much less allergic [than Finnish children in more-urban environments], and they also had a much richer skin microbiota,” says [immunologist Nanna] Fyhrquist.
Specifically, the country kids had more, and more-diverse, bacteria on their skin, with a particularly high abundance of Acinetobacter—a genus of microbes in the Proteobacteria phylum that are commonly found on plants. The researchers further found that children with more Acinetobacter on their skin had more leukocytes in their bloodstream and that these cells were much more capable of producing the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 compared with the leukocytes of urban kids. “This led us to think that this particular group of microbes derived from nature might be able to somehow contribute training or calibration of the immune system,” says Fyhrquist.
Read full, original post: The Influence of Soil on Immune Health