The increasing prevalence of allergies worldwide has spurred numerous efforts to better understand risk factors and mechanisms underlying these potentially life-threatening immune responses. Coordinated by Series Editor Kari Nadeau, these reviews address our evolving understanding of the shared and distinct mechanisms underlying allergic diseases of the skin, respiratory system, and gastrointestinal tract. In topics ranging from the molecular and cellular basis of allergy to the influence of the central nervous system, microbiome, and environment, leaders in the field highlight major insights into allergic responses as well as new concepts in treating and preventing allergy.
Gastrointestinal (GI) allergic disease is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of adverse, food antigen–driven, immune-mediated diseases. Although these diseases vary mechanistically, common elements include a breakdown of immunologic tolerance, a biased type 2 immune response, and an impaired mucosal barrier. These pathways are influenced by diverse factors such as diet, infections, exposure to antibiotics and chemicals, GI microbiome composition, and genetic and epigenetic elements. Early childhood has emerged as a critical period when these factors have a dramatic impact on shaping the immune system and therefore triggering or protecting against the onset of GI allergic diseases. In this Review, we will discuss the latest findings on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that govern GI allergic diseases and how these findings have set the stage for emerging preventative and treatment strategies.
Nurit P. Azouz, Marc E. Rothenberg
Allergen-specific immunotherapy has shown promise for the treatment of food allergy and is currently being evaluated in clinical trials. Although immunotherapy can induce desensitization, the mechanisms underlying this process are not completely understood. Recent advances in high-throughput technologies along with concomitant advances in data analytics have enabled monitoring of cells at the single-cell level and increased the research focus on upstream cellular factors involved in the efficacy of immunotherapy, particularly the role of T cells. As our appreciation of different T cell subsets and their plasticity increases, the initial simplistic view that restoring Th1/Th2 balance by decreasing Th2 or increasing Th1 responses can ameliorate food allergy is being enhanced by a more complex model involving other T cell subsets, particularly Tregs. In this Review, we focus on the current understanding of T cell functions in food allergy, tolerance, and immunotherapy.
Vanitha Sampath, Kari C. Nadeau
The epithelial cell–derived cytokines thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), IL-33, and IL-25 are central regulators of type 2 immunity, which drives a broad array of allergic responses. Often characterized as “alarmins” that are released by the barrier epithelium in response to external insults, these epithelial cell–derived cytokines were initially thought to act only early in allergic inflammation. Indeed, TSLP can condition dendritic cells to initiate type 2 responses, and IL-33 may influence susceptibility to asthma through its role in establishing the immune environment in the perinatal lungs. However, TSLP, IL-33, and IL-25 all regulate a broad spectrum of innate immune cell populations and are particularly potent in eliciting and activating type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) that may act throughout allergic inflammation. Recent data suggest that a TSLP/ILC axis may mediate steroid resistance in asthma. Recent identification of memory Th2 cell subsets that are characterized by high receptor expression for TSLP, IL-33, and IL-25 further supports a role for these cytokines in allergic exacerbations. There is therefore growing interest in developing biologics that target TSLP, IL-33, and IL-25. This Review provides an overview of TSLP, IL-33, and IL-25 and the development of blocking antibodies that target these epithelial cell–derived cytokines.
Florence Roan, Kazushige Obata-Ninomiya, Steven F. Ziegler
The rising prevalence of allergies represents an increasing socioeconomic burden. A detailed understanding of the immunological mechanisms that underlie the development of allergic disease, as well as the processes that drive immune tolerance to allergens, will be instrumental in designing therapeutic strategies to treat and prevent allergic disease. Improved characterization of individual patients through the use of specific biomarkers and improved definitions of disease endotypes are paving the way for the use of targeted therapeutic approaches for personalized treatment. Allergen-specific immunotherapy and biologic therapies that target key molecules driving the Th2 response are already used in the clinic, and a wave of novel drug candidates are under development. In-depth analysis of the cells and tissues of patients treated with such targeted interventions provides a wealth of information on the mechanisms that drive allergies and tolerance to allergens. Here, we aim to deliver an overview of the current state of specific inhibitors used in the treatment of allergy, with a particular focus on asthma and atopic dermatitis, and provide insights into the roles of these molecules in immunological mechanisms of allergic disease.
Willem van de Veen, Mübeccel Akdis
Allergic diseases have in common a dysfunctional epithelial barrier, which allows the penetration of allergens and microbes, leading to the release of type 2 cytokines that drive allergic inflammation. The accessibility of skin, compared with lung or gastrointestinal tissue, has facilitated detailed investigations into mechanisms underlying epithelial barrier dysfunction in atopic dermatitis (AD). This Review describes the formation of the skin barrier and analyzes the link between altered skin barrier formation and the pathogenesis of AD. The keratinocyte differentiation process is under tight regulation. During epidermal differentiation, keratinocytes sequentially switch gene expression programs, resulting in terminal differentiation and the formation of a mature stratum corneum, which is essential for the skin to prevent allergen or microbial invasion. Abnormalities in keratinocyte differentiation in AD skin result in hyperproliferation of the basal layer of epidermis, inhibition of markers of terminal differentiation, and barrier lipid abnormalities, compromising skin barrier and antimicrobial function. There is also compelling evidence for epithelial dysregulation in asthma, food allergy, eosinophilic esophagitis, and allergic rhinosinusitis. This Review examines current epithelial barrier repair strategies as an approach for allergy prevention or intervention.
Elena Goleva, Evgeny Berdyshev, Donald Y.M. Leung
The neuronal and immune systems exhibit bidirectional interactions that play a critical role in tissue homeostasis, infection, and inflammation. Neuron-derived neuropeptides and neurotransmitters regulate immune cell functions, whereas inflammatory mediators produced by immune cells enhance neuronal activation. In recent years, accumulating evidence suggests that peripheral neurons and immune cells are colocalized and affect each other in local tissues. A variety of cytokines, inflammatory mediators, neuropeptides, and neurotransmitters appear to facilitate this crosstalk and positive-feedback loops between multiple types of immune cells and the central, peripheral, sympathetic, parasympathetic, and enteric nervous systems. In this Review, we discuss these recent findings regarding neuro-immune crosstalk that are uncovering molecular mechanisms that regulate inflammation. Finally, neuro-immune crosstalk has a key role in the pathophysiology of allergic diseases, and we present evidence indicating that neuro-immune interactions regulate asthma pathophysiology through both direct and indirect mechanisms.
Hiroki Kabata, David Artis
In industrialized societies the incidence of allergic diseases like atopic dermatitis, food allergies, and asthma has risen alarmingly over the last few decades. This increase has been attributed, in part, to lifestyle changes that alter the composition and function of the microbes that colonize the skin and mucosal surfaces. Strategies that reverse these changes to establish and maintain a healthy microbiome show promise for the prevention and treatment of allergic disease. In this Review, we will discuss evidence from preclinical and clinical studies that gives insights into how the microbiota of skin, intestinal tract, and airways influence immune responses in the context of allergic sensitization.
Andrea M. Kemter, Cathryn R. Nagler
A rapidly developing paradigm for modern health care is a proactive and individualized response to patients’ symptoms, combining precision diagnosis and personalized treatment. Precision medicine is becoming an overarching medical discipline that will require a better understanding of biomarkers, phenotypes, endotypes, genotypes, regiotypes, and theratypes of diseases. The 100-year-old personalized allergen-specific management of allergic diseases has particularly contributed to early awareness in precision medicine. Polyomics, big data, and systems biology have demonstrated a profound complexity and dynamic variability in allergic disease between individuals, as well as between regions. Escalating health care costs together with questionable efficacy of the current management of allergic diseases facilitated the emergence of the endotype-driven approach. We describe here a precision medicine approach that stratifies patients based on disease mechanisms to optimize management of allergic diseases.
Ioana Agache, Cezmi A. Akdis
Environmental exposures interplay with human host factors to promote the development and progression of allergic diseases. The worldwide prevalence of allergic disease is rising as a result of complex gene-environment interactions that shape the immune system and host response. Research shows an association between the rise of allergic diseases and increasingly modern Westernized lifestyles, which are characterized by increased urbanization, time spent indoors, and antibiotic usage. These environmental changes result in increased exposure to air and traffic pollution, fungi, infectious agents, tobacco smoke, and other early-life and lifelong risk factors for the development and exacerbation of asthma and allergic diseases. It is increasingly recognized that the timing, load, and route of allergen exposure affect allergic disease phenotypes and development. Still, our ability to prevent allergic diseases is hindered by gaps in understanding of the underlying mechanisms and interaction of environmental, viral, and allergen exposures with immune pathways that impact disease development. This Review highlights epidemiologic and mechanistic evidence linking environmental exposures to the development and exacerbation of allergic airway responses.
Liza Bronner Murrison, Eric B. Brandt, Jocelyn Biagini Myers, Gurjit K. Khurana Hershey