A new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found that the fecal microbiota of people with allergies is very different from those of people without, containing markedly fewer species. The research included data from 1,879 American adults.
“American adults with allergies, especially to nuts and seasonal pollen, have lower richness and altered composition of their gut microbiota,” said scientists from the National Cancer Institute at NIH in the journal EBioMedicine, where the study was published.
The scientists are calling for clinical trials involving studies of fecal microbiota characterization and tests of preventive or amelioration options such as supplementation or dietary changes.
Study commentary from experts says that the findings could serve as a clue towards markers of increased risk of allergies or for better treatment assessments.
The study does not, however, predict all allergies, including most food allergies, as being especially associated with gut microbia. It does show that a link is very possible, say commenting experts in the EBioMedicine issue.
Of the 1,879 people in the study, 82 percent reported an allergy and about 3 percent reported allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, or shellfish. 9 percent reported other food allergies. 40 percent of participant had seasonal allergies. All allergies except asthma, eczema, and bee sting allergies were associated with lower fecal microbiota. Allergies to nuts and seasonal pollen, the researchers noted, were the most associated with lower microbiota.
The findings of this study are consistent with a similar study conducted by Danish scientists in 2011, which focused on children.