Community rates of food allergy have been rising over the last 25 years at a rate too rapid to be explained by changes in genetics. Environmental changes brought about by urban development and industrialization have been linked to rising rates of food allergy. Modern environments are now less favorable for promoting healthy immune development in early life, and factors such as reduced microbial diversity and vitamin D insufficiency have been associated with higher rates of food allergy in young children. Epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation mediate changes in gene expression, in response to environmental factors, and epigenetic states can be passed down to subsequent generations. Epigenetic mechanisms therefore provide a framework for understanding the mechanisms linking environment, genes, and the development of food allergies. Recent evidence suggests epigenetic perturbation at immune system genes is associated with childhood food allergy. The search for the causes of epigenetic disruption and the specific factors involved is now underway. Work in this area is anticipated to enhance our understanding of gene - environment interactions and their role in complex immune diseases like food allergy. In this review, we discuss the relevance of epigenetic research in understanding childhood food allergies and offer a state-of-play for scientific advancements in this area.
|Title of host publication||Handbook of Nutrition, Diet, and Epigenetics|
|Editors||Vinood Patel, Victor Preedy|
|Publisher||Springer International Publishing Switzerland|
|Number of pages||14|
|Publication status||Published - 5 Jan 2019|