The External Exposome and Allergies: From the Perspective of the Epithelial Barrier Hypothesis

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Sozener Z. C., Yucel U. O., ALTINER S., Ozturk B. O., Cerci P., Turk M., ...More

FRONTIERS IN ALLERGY, 2022 (ESCI) identifier identifier


IntroductionIn the last decades, we have seen a rapid increase in the prevalence of allergic diseases such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, and food allergies. The environmental changes caused by industrialization, urbanization and modernization, including dramatic increases in air pollutants such as particulate matter (PM), diesel exhaust, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), alarming effects of global warming, change and loss of biodiversity, affect both human health and the entire ecosystem.ObjectiveIn this review, we aimed to discuss the effects of the external exposome on epithelial barriers and its relationship with the development of allergic diseases by considering the changes in all stakeholders of the outer exposome together, in the light of the recently proposed epithelial barrier hypothesis.MethodTo reach current, prominent, and comprehensive studies on the subject, PubMed databases were searched. We included the more resounding articles with reliable and strong results.ResultsExposure to altered environmental factors such as increased pollution, microplastics, nanoparticles, tobacco smoke, food emulsifiers, detergents, and household cleaners, and climate change, loss and change in microbial biodiversity, modifications in the consumption of dietary fatty acids, the use of emulsifiers, preservatives and the decrease in the antioxidant content of the widely consumed western diet may disrupt the epithelial barriers of the skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, making us more vulnerable to exogeneous allergens and microbes. Epithelial cell activation, microbial dysbiosis and bacterial translocation disrupt the immune balance and a chronic Th2 inflammation ensues.ConclusionDramatic increases in air pollution, worrisome effects of global warming, dysbiosis, changing dietary habits and the complex interactions of all these factors affect the epithelial barriers and local and systemic inflammation. We want to draw attention to the emerging health effects of environmental changes and to motivate the public to influence government policies for the well-being of humans and the nature of the earth and the well-being of future generations.