farm animals

Early childhood exposure to farm animals and pets modifies immunological responses

Exposure to farm animals in early childhood modifies the key allergy-related immunological mechanisms, shows a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland. The study provides new insight into the role of dendritic cells and cytokine production in particular.

Growing up on a traditional farm has been shown to protect a child from the development of childhood atopic diseases. The association between pet exposure in early childhood and the risk of atopic diseases is less clear. Previous studies have indicated that farm and pet exposures may exert effects on the maturing immune system but the underlying immunological mechanisms are mainly unsolved. Dendritic cells are professional antigen-presenting cells, which are able to regulate the responses of adaptive immune cells towards, e.g. non-allergic T helper 1, allergic Th2 or regulatory T cell responses. Dendritic cells may play an important role in the effect of farm and pet animal exposure on childhood atopic diseases.

Heidi Kääriö, MSc. The allergy and asthma protective effects of farm environment and pet animals - The role of immunomodulation. Scandinavian Journal of Immunology and Clinical & Experimental Allergy, December 2015