Research Topic

Early Life Origins of Immune-Mediated Disease

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Many aspects of our health in later life are determined, at least in part, through environmental conditions during critical times of development in early life - the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD). The immune system is inherently responsive to the environment. Therefore, how the developing ...

Many aspects of our health in later life are determined, at least in part, through environmental conditions during critical times of development in early life - the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD). The immune system is inherently responsive to the environment. Therefore, how the developing immune system responds to the environment, and how and why these responses are increasingly prone to dysregulation is of intense interest. This dysregulation manifests as increasing prevalence of many immune-mediated disorders including IgE-mediated allergy, type I diabetes and inflammatory bowel diseases. Specificity and patterns of immune responses that develop in early life could influence the function of many organ systems and thereby the manifestation of these and other diseases.

There are fundamental differences in the tenor of the immune response of the fetus, neonate and infant compared to older children and adults. This presumably reflects highly evolved strategies to limit inflammation and tissue damage during the transition from the intrauterine to the extrauterine environment, and as the immune system matures. Perturbation of these processes is postulated to underlie the increased prevalence of a range of diseases with inflammatory etiology. Multiple facets of our environment can influence peri- and post-natal maturation of immune function. The mucosal immune system in particular must coordinate and integrate environmental signals to determine immunologic or tolerogenic outcomes upon antigen exposure. This is influenced by patterns of microbial and nutritional exposures and declining biodiversity globally might be a key contributing factor. The same hormones that regulate appetite, fat storage and metabolism can also regulate immune function so obesity is a critical environmental determinant of immune health. Elucidating these and other interactions will shape our understanding of the early life origins of immune-mediated disorders over the coming years.

The scope of this Research Topic will inform the immunological programming paradigm with a focus on the inflammatory response. Inflammation is a feature of both communicable and non-communicable diseases and is part of an immunological cascade modulated by the environment, genetics and maturity of the host. Some important issues we intend to cover include: pattern recognition receptor strategies; dendritic cells, immune surveillance and tolerogenic mechanisms; impact of and interaction with the microbiome; immunometabolic pathways that shape cellular effector function; placental and reproductive immunology; and dietary nutrients and immune function. Contributions from a wide range of immunology disciplines from innate and adaptive immunity, through mucosal and nutritional (including breast feeding) immunology, to immunological memory and tolerance will be targeted. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage the interdisciplinary work required to drive innovative approaches to controlling disease progression or even preventing disease.


Keywords: inflammation, newborn, diease, programming, childhood


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