Infectious Behavior

In chapter 7 of my book, and in my post of Dec 2, 2011, I noted how the hygiene hypothesis is used to explain the relatively recent, serious rise in auto-immune disorders. This is illustrated by the correlation between the dramatic drop in infectious diseases and the corresponding increase in many auto-immune disorders during the 20th century. The figure is taken from Bach’s review in NEJM. Question: If a deficiency in exposure to microbes during early childhood development (good hygiene) leads to hyper-responsivenes to these microbes later in life (auto-immune disorders), is it too late to modulate the auto-immune responses by manipulating exposure to microbes in adulthood? As I’ve discussed here previously, manipulating the gut microbiome by fecal transplants has proven successful in treating severe bowel conditions in human patients. Another approach is to actually infect patients on purpose to possibly modulate the immune system in a favorable direction…

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2 Responses to

  1. A reminder if you are at all interested in these types of issues in autism , schizophrenia or depression then you should get yourself a copy of Paul Patterson’s insightful work. Infectious Behaviour.

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