Neonatal exposure to pneumococcal phosphorylcholine modulates the development of house dust mite allergy during adult life

Academic Article


  • Currently, ∼20% of the global population suffers from an allergic disorder. Allergies and asthma occur at higher rates in developed and industrialized countries. It is clear that many human atopic diseases are initiated neonatally and herald more severe IgE-mediated disorders, including allergic asthma, which is driven by the priming of Th2 effector T cells. The hygiene hypothesis attempts to link the increased excessively sanitary conditions early in life to a default Th2 response and increasing allergic phenomena. Despite the substantial involvement of IgE Abs in such conditions, little attention has been paid to the effects of early microbial exposure on the B cell repertoire prior to the initiation of these diseases. In this study, we use Ab-binding assays to demonstrate that Streptococcus pneumoniae and house dust mite (HDM) bear similar phosphorylcholine (PC) epitopes. Neonatal C57BL/6 mice immunized with a PC-bearing pneumococcal vaccine expressed increased frequencies of PC-specific B cells in the lungs following sensitizing exposure to HDM as adults. Anti-PC IgM Abs in the lung decreased the interaction of HDM with pulmonary APCs and were affiliated with lowered allergy-associated cell infiltration into the lung, IgE production, development of airway hyperresponsiveness, and Th2 T cell priming. Thus, exposure of neonatal mice to PC-bearing pneumococci significantly reduced the development of HDM-induced allergic disease during adult life. Our findings demonstrate that B cells generated against conserved epitopes expressed by bacteria, encountered early in life, are also protective against the development of allergic disease during adult life.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Patel PS; Kearney JF
  • Start Page

  • 5838
  • End Page

  • 5850
  • Volume

  • 194
  • Issue

  • 12