The hygiene hypothesis, as originally proposed, postulated an inverse relation between the incidence of infectious diseases in early life and the subsequent development of allergies and asthma. New evidence from epidemiological, biological and genetic studies has significantly enlarged the scope of the hypothesis. It now appears probable that environmental 'danger' signals regulate the pattern of immune responses in early life. Microbial burden in general, and not any single acute infectious illness, is the main source of these signals. The latter interact with a sensitive and complex receptor system, and genetic variations in this receptor system may be an important determinant of inherited susceptibility to asthma and allergies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine