Environmental determinants of and impact on childhood asthma by the bacterial community in household dust

Raina M. Maier, Michael W. Palmer, Gary L. Andersen, Marilyn J. Halonen, Karen C. Josephson, Robert S. Maier, Fernando D. Martinez, Julia W. Neilson, Debra A. Stern, Donata Vercelli, Anne L. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Asthma increased dramatically in the last decades of the 20th century and is representative of chronic diseases that have been linked to altered microbial exposure and immune responses. Here we evaluate the effects of environmental exposures typically associated with asthma protection or risk on the microbial community structure of household dust (dogs, cats, and day care). PCR-denaturing gradient gel analysis (PCR-DGGE) demonstrated that the bacterial community structure in house dust is significantly impacted by the presence of dogs or cats in the home (P = 0.0190 and 0.0029, respectively) and by whether or not children attend day care (P = 0.0037). In addition, significant differences in the dust bacterial community were associated with asthma outcomes in young children, including wheezing (P = 0.0103) and specific IgE (P = 0.0184). Our findings suggest that specific bacterial populations within the community are associated with either risk or protection from asthma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2663-2667
Number of pages5
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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