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Publications

Microbial Exposure During Early Life Has Persistent Effects on Natural Killer T Cell Function – Science

Exposure to microbes during early childhood is associated with protection from immune-mediated diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and asthma. Here, we show that in germ-free (GF) mice, invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells accumulate in the colonic lamina propria and lung, resulting in increased morbidity in models of IBD and allergic asthma as compared with that of specific pathogen-free mice. This was associated with increased intestinal and pulmonary expression of the chemokine ligand CXCL16, which was associated with increased mucosal iNKT cells. Colonization of neonatal—but not adult—GF mice with a conventional microbiota protected the animals from mucosal iNKT accumulation and related pathology. These results indicate that age-sensitive contact with commensal microbes is critical for establishing mucosal iNKT cell tolerance to later environmental exposures.

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/336/6080/489

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Opinion

SCIENTIST REVEALS WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO LET YOUR KIDS BE EXPOSED TO GERMS – The Independent (2017)

Parents are over-sterlising the environments of their children because they don’t understand why dirt is good for us, a germ expert says.

Professor Jack Gilbert said that exposure to microbes prevalent in the great outdoors will establish a stronger, more robust immune system in young people.

“Most parents think all germs are bad, that is not true. Most will just stimulate your immune system and make you stronger,” Prof Gilbert told The Independent.

…Prof Gilbert also claims that hand sanitizer is more damaging to a child’s health than soapy water. According to Prof Gilbert, children’s immune systems were more healthy and robust than they are today because of more relaxed attitudes to germs. He explains that more fermented foods which contain bacteria, enable children higher exposure to animals, plants and soil more often.

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/why-its-important-expose-kids-germs-scientist-explains-jack-gilbert-children-babies-immune-systems-a7845031.html