How colonization by microbiota in early life shapes the immune system


Thomas Gensollen, Shankar S Iyer, Dennis L Kasper, and Richard S Blumberg. 2016. “How colonization by microbiota in early life shapes the immune system.” Science, 352, 6285, Pp. 539-44.


Microbial colonization of mucosal tissues during infancy plays an instrumental role in the development and education of the host mammalian immune system. These early-life events can have long-standing consequences: facilitating tolerance to environmental exposures or contributing to the development of disease in later life, including inflammatory bowel disease, allergy, and asthma. Recent studies have begun to define a critical period during early development in which disruption of optimal host-commensal interactions can lead to persistent and in some cases irreversible defects in the development and training of specific immune subsets. Here, we discuss the role of early-life education of the immune system during this "window of opportunity," when microbial colonization has a potentially critical impact on human health and disease.