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GUT is one of my favourite journals, as they regularly explore the ‘alternative’ approaches to colon health management with a vigour that appeases the clinician in me, and a rigour that calms the scientist.

A paper published in early 2012[1] add’s further knowledge to the role that probiotics and the active components produced by lactic acid bacteria have on mucosal health and intestinal balance. An especially pleasing discovery – for an old long term user of this word – is their inclusion of the term dysbiosis, with a summary explanation in the opening paragraph, as there is no abstract. I have reproduced it below:

Dogs and Cats confer immune tolerance to children

Of course the concept that early exposure to environmentally challenging agents will reduce risk of allergy is not a new concept, nor is outside of general knowledge, in terms of the hygiene theory. However, each subsequent supportive study continues to support the notion that we can programme our immune system at an early age (but not exclusively) to protect us from overly enthusiastic immune responses later in life.

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Vitamin A: The Key to A Tolerant Immune System?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010 by | Comments: 7

By Michael Ash, BSc(Hons). DO. ND. FellowDipION

Vitamin D and Vitamin A are essential co-partners in immunological and bone health.[1],[2] I’m particularly excited about vitamin A because of its profound effects on the gut mucosal immune system—a specialty of mine. Just as vitamin D has attracted attention for its ability to increase antimicrobial peptides and help us defeat pathogens, it’s fascinating to me that vitamin A is also essential for the very tissues that protect us from the same pathogens.

The availability of vitamin A in our food is a key factor in a tolerant, highly functional immune system. To quote from the title of a brilliant commentary in the March 2008 issue of Nature’s Mucosal Immunology, “Vitamin A rewrites the ABCs of oral tolerance.”[3]

Vitamin A is crucial to a very sophisticated bi-directional mechanism that takes place in the digestive system and leads to immune tolerance across the entire gut lining. Immune tolerance is the essence of good health. An intolerant immune system will lead to a wide range of illnesses, and the gut is where many people first lose immune tolerance. Vitamin A (retinoic acid) is key to our ability to consume a wide range of antigens (food) and yet not react adversely, and it’s quite fascinating.

S1074761309X00099_cov150hFoxp3+ T regulatory (Treg) cells control all aspects of the immune response. This paper reviews the in vitro model systems that have been developed to define the mechanisms used by Treg cells to suppress a large number of distinct target cell types.

Immune system regulation is of paramount importance to host survival. In settings of autoimmunity and alloimmunity, control is lost, resulting in injury to vital organs and tissues. Naturally occurring, thymic-derived T regulatory (Treg) cells that express CD4, CD25, and the forkhead box protein 3 (FoxP3) are potent suppressors of these adverse immune responses. Preclinical studies

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