Oral tolerance in neonates: From basics to potential prevention of allergic disease

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

62 Citations (Scopus)


Oral tolerance refers to the observation that prior feeding of an antigen induces local and systemic immune tolerance to that antigen. Physiologically, this process is probably of central importance for preventing inflammatory responses to the numerous dietary and microbial antigens present in the gut. Defective oral tolerance can lead to gut inflammatory disease, food allergies, and celiac disease. In the last two cases, the diseases develop early in life, stressing the necessity of understanding how oral tolerance is set up in neonates. This article reviews the parameters that have been outlined in adult animal models as necessary for tolerance induction and assesses whether these factors operate in neonates. In addition, we highlight the factors that are specific for this period of life and discuss how they could have an impact on oral tolerance. We pay particular attention to maternal influence on early oral tolerance induction through breast-feeding and outline the major parameters that could be modified to optimize tolerance induction in early life and possibly prevent allergic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-333
Number of pages8
JournalMucosal Immunology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes

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