Evolutionary biology and anthropology suggest biome reconstitution as a necessary approach toward dealing with immune disorders

William Parker, Jeff Ollerton

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle

Abstract

Industrialized society currently faces a wide range of non-infectious, immune-related pandemics. These pandemics include a variety of autoimmune, inflammatory and allergic diseases that are often associated with common environmental triggers and with genetic predisposition, but that do not occur in developing societies. In this review, we briefly present the idea that these pandemics are due to a limited number of evolutionary mismatches, the most damaging being ‘biome depletion’. This particular mismatch involves the loss of species from the ecosystem of the human body, the human biome, many of which have traditionally been classified as parasites, although some may actually be commensal or even mutualistic. This view, evolved from the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, encompasses a broad ecological and evolutionary perspective that considers host-symbiont relations as plastic, changing through ecological space and evolutionary time. Fortunately, this perspective provides a blueprint, termed 'biome reconstitution', for disease treatment and especially for disease prevention. Biome reconstitution includes the controlled and population-wide reintroduction (i.e. domestication) of selected species that have been all but eradicated from the human biome in industrialized society and holds great promise for the elimination of pandemics of allergic, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEvolution, Medicine, and Public Health
Volume2013
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

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Anthropology
Immune System Diseases
Ecosystem
Pandemics
Hygiene Hypothesis
Genetic Predisposition to Disease
Human Body
Autoimmune Diseases
Plastics
Parasites
Population

Keywords

  • allergy
  • autism
  • autoimmunity
  • helminths
  • inflammation
  • microbiome
  • mutualism

Cite this

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