Gut Microbiota, Diet, and Allergic Asthma Phenotypes in Children

3D rendering of human intestine villi and microbiome
How does consumption of processed food by children with atopy and asthma affect the gut microbiota and disease severity?

The following article is a part of conference coverage from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting, being held in Phoenix, Arizona, from February 25 to 28, 2022. The team at Pulmonology Advisor will be reporting on the latest news and research conducted by leading experts in the field. Check back for more from the AAAAI 2022 Virtual Annual Meeting.

Metabolic dysfunction/gut microbiota associated with atopy and asthma in children are related to the consumption of processed food. These are among study findings being presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) 2022 Annual Meeting, held in Phoenix, Arizona, February 25 to 28. The study also identified specific diet-microbe interactions that potentially contribute to disease severity.

In the current study, the Urban Environmental and Childhood Asthma study ( Identifier: NCT00114881), researchers sought to determine whether gut microbes and their by-products interact with dietary exposures and influence allergy and asthma phenotypes. The trial included 345 children (9 years of age) who were classified into 6 respiratory phenotypes based on lung function, wheeze, and atopic disease trajectories. The researchers then assessed these children with respect to features of the gut microbiome (utilizing 16S ribosomal ribonucleic acid [rRNA] and shotgun metagenomic sequencing) and diet (using the Block Food Frequency Questionnaire).

Researchers found 4 gut microbiota structures that were significantly associated with respiratory phenotype (P =.04), socioeconomic status (P =.04), site (P =.005), and a range of measurements of atopy (all P <.04). In children with allergic asthma and low lung function, a bacterial network dominated by Prevotella showed significantly reduced abundance. Dietary exposures were also associated with respiratory phenotypes (analysis of variance P =.03). Children less likely to have severe asthma were those with a low abundance of gut networks of Christenellaceae, Methanobacteriales, and Clostridia whose diets were rich in whole foods (interaction P =.03).

The researchers concluded, “Our data indicate that the gut microbiota remains associated to phenotypes of atopic asthma in later childhood and also identifies specific diet-microbe interactions that may modulate or contribute to disease severity.”

Disclosure: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


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Ozcam M, Li D, McCauley K, et al. Features of the gut microbiome relate to allergic asthma phenotypes in inner-city children. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) 2022 Annual Meeting; February 25–28, 2022; Phoenix, AZ. Abstract 437.