Multinational time-trend analyses of atopic disease have shown that the East-West gradients in prevalence are shrinking. We set out to clarify whether the disparities in the occurrence of atopy and atopic diseases in Finnish and Russian Karelia during the past 10 years have diminished and how the prevalence of atopy has evolved with successive years of birth.
Two surveys with identical methodology were performed in 1997/1998 and 2007. The study population comprised randomly selected adults, aged 25-54 years, from Finnish and Russian Karelia. Serum samples were collected for total and specific IgE measurements. Clinical data were obtained by questionnaires.
Sensitization rates to birch pollen increased from 7.8% to 14.8% (P
A substantial variation in the association of asthma, rhinitis and eczema with elevated serum allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (sIgE) levels between different populations has been reported. Here, we wanted to clarify whether these proportions are different in Finnish and Russian Karelia, and compared the ability of questionnaires, skin prick tests (SPT) and sIgE measurements to detect atopic conditions in these adjacent areas with different living conditions.
Randomly selected schoolchildren, aged 6-16 years, and their mothers from Finland (n = 344 children, 344 mothers) and Russia (427 and 284 respectively) participated. SPTs and sIgE measurements to common inhalant and food allergens were performed. The occurrence of asthma, rhinitis, eczema and related symptoms was assessed with an International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood-based questionnaire. Correlation between SPT and sIgE was estimated using the Spearman correlation coefficient.
The rate of positive sIgE results was significantly higher in Finland among both mothers and children. Seventy-seven per cent of Finnish children and 43% of Russian children with asthma were sIgE positive. The respective figures for hay fever were 94% and 67%, and for eczema 68% and 41%. This discrepancy was similar but of lower magnitude among mothers. The overall occurrence of asthma, rhinitis and eczema was very low in Russian Karelia. The correlation between SPT and sIgE results was generally good.
Asthma, rhinitis and eczema in Russian Karelia are not only rare but also, to a large extent, have no sIgE component. Therefore, the ability of questionnaires to detect sIgE-mediated atopic conditions in this area of Russia is poor.
Western lifestyle is associated with high prevalence of allergy, asthma and other chronic inflammatory disorders. To explain this association, we tested the 'biodiversity hypothesis', which posits that reduced contact of children with environmental biodiversity, including environmental microbiota in natural habitats, has adverse consequences on the assembly of human commensal microbiota and its contribution to immune tolerance.
We analysed four study cohorts from Finland and Estonia (n = 1044) comprising children and adolescents aged 0.5-20 years. The prevalence of atopic sensitization was assessed by measuring serum IgE specific to inhalant allergens. We calculated the proportion of five land-use types--forest, agricultural land, built areas, wetlands and water bodies--in the landscape around the homes using the CORINE2006 classification.
The cover of forest and agricultural land within 2-5 km from the home was inversely and significantly associated with atopic sensitization. This relationship was observed for children 6 years of age and older. Land-use pattern explained 20% of the variation in the relative abundance of Proteobacteria on the skin of healthy individuals, supporting the hypothesis of a strong environmental effect on the commensal microbiota.
The amount of green environment (forest and agricultural land) around homes was inversely associated with the risk of atopic sensitization in children. The results indicate that early-life exposure to green environments is especially important. The environmental effect may be mediated via the effect of environmental microbiota on the commensal microbiota influencing immunotolerance.
Cites: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Aug 17;107(33):14691-620679230
Cites: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 May 22;109(21):8334-922566627
The prevalence of atopic diseases--hayfever, asthma and eczema--has increased over the past decades. The increase may be associated with decreased rates of infections such as measles, hepatitis A, tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, and, as recently suggested, Helicobacter pylori gastritis.
Since the increase of atopy has been mainly based on clinical studies, we wanted to study the prevalence of allergen-specific Immunoglobulin (Ig)E antibodies in two cross-sectional, adult population-based serum samples two decades apart. Since the sera had been tested for H. pylori antibodies, we also had a chance to look for a possible relationship between these two findings.
We determined the prevalence rate of allergen-specific serum IgE antibodies against birch and timothy pollen, and cat and dog epithelium allergens by the radioallergosorbent test in a 15-54-years-old Finnish population using 326 sera collected in 1973 and 319 sera collected in 1994 from randomly selected subjects.
From 1973 to 1994 allergen-specific IgE prevalence rates and IgE antibody levels rose. In 1994, the prevalence rate of positive findings in 15-24-year-old population had increased from 11 to 38% (3.5-fold increase, P = 0.0001, OR 5.12, CI 95% 2.32-11.3). In older 10-year age groups similar trends did not reach significance, but the overall change was significant with all three cut-off levels of allergen-specific IgE analysed. The percentage of IgE-positive persons rose mainly in the subgroup with no H. pylori antibodies. In 1994 21% of the H. pylori-negative subjects had IgE antibodies compared with 5% of the H. pylori-positive subjects (in 1973 11% in both subgroups).
IgE-based evidence for an increase in IgE-mediated allergy was uncovered. The increase occurred mainly in the subgroup with no antibodies to H. pylori, which support the hypothesis that H. pylori could be one of the microbes counteracting atopy.