A new study led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has revealed key differences in gut bacteria and their metabolic byproducts in infants that may predict the development of peanut allergies by mid-childhood. The findings, published online August 22 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, could pave the way for new strategies to prevent or treat this increasingly common food allergy.
The multi-center longitudinal study monitored infants known to be at risk for allergies but who hadn't yet developed a peanut allergy. By analyzing fecal samples from infancy and later in childhood, the researchers were able to identify specific differences in gut bacteria and the metabolites they produce between children who did and did not develop a peanut allergy by around age 9.
Key findings of the study include:
- Infants who eventually developed peanut allergies had lower gut microbiome diversity during their early years.
- Specific classes of bacteria, including Clostridium and Bifidobacterium, and certain metabolites like butyrate and isovalerate were found in different patterns in children who developed peanut allergies.
- Metabolites associated with peanut allergy development were linked to the “histidine metabolism pathway” – a process in the body that breaks down and uses the protein building block histidine.