About this Research Topic
Most non-communicable diseases have environmental causes yet how the environment affects physiology and immunity is still not fully known. The concept of ecophysiology is widely used for plant or animal physiology but we propose in this Research Topic the concept of Ecophysiology related to human health. Nutrition and Exercise are central pillars of health. In this Research Topic, we aim to collate studies investigating how these factors affect physiology at large and more precisely immunity and thus their role in disease development.
The impact of nutrition on health has been appreciated since antiquity with the famous quote from Hippocrates “Let food be thy medicine”. The increase of obesity since the second half of the twentieth century illustrates the link between diet and surge in non-communicable diseases with the high consumption of processed and imbalanced foods in western societies and in developing countries. The problem is even beyond a direct impact of diet on human health but also indirect effects, related to food production including problems associated with mass production, pesticides, hormones or other pollutants in the context of global climate change.
Modern lifestyle, in many cases, involves a dramatic reduction in people’s exercise and human activity, which, like the western diet, has been linked to the obesity epidemic. However, exercise does not only influence metabolism but has also appeared to profoundly shape immune responses linked to the reduction in cancers as well as several chronic diseases. For example, exercise in mice was associated with a systemic increase of IL-6 which prevented lung tumor development. Similarly, sedentary behaviours have been associated with increased cancer development in humans.
The gut microbiota has recently been considered an integral part of the host and is one of the body components that is the most affected by environmental changes. Modification of the microbiota due to a western diet has been shown to be a major contributor to obesity development, with germ-free mice developing obesity once recolonized with gut microbiota-derived from obese humans or mice. Numerous studies have shown disease exacerbation in germ free mice recolonised with microbiota derived from mice or humans with diseases such as allergies, arthritis, multiple sclerosis etc. Which bacteria and derived metabolites can affect host immunity and disease development is an intensive field of investigation.
Finally, critical stages of development in utero and pre/at weaning will affect health throughout life. For example, it has been shown that the interaction host gut microbiota at weaning was critical to establish gut homeostasis to control inflammatory response later in life.
We welcome authors to submit Original Research and Review articles focusing on, but not limited to, the following subtopics:
1. How changes in exercise might affect the immune function and physiology
2. How changes in the environment can alter microbiota-host communication and its impact on immune tolerance and disease development
3. How early life events (in utero and pre-weaning) affect the immune system and health throughout life including aging
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.