Barn dust protects rural children from allergies. The question of why rural children are less affected by allergies than urban children seems to be solved.
(07/19/2010) Scientists have found out why rural children are less likely to be affected by allergies and asthma than rural children. Sugar molecules in forage plants may strengthen the immune system.
Children in the city suffer on average from allergies and asthma diseases more often than children of the same age in the city. To find out the background for this connection, researchers from Bochum, Munich and Borstel investigated this question. So far, doctors and researchers have always assumed that children in rural areas come into contact with germs more often than other children. This would strengthen the immune system from the start. This assumption is not entirely wrong, as the researchers have now found.
Scientists at the Ruhr University in Bochum discovered a sugar molecule in fodder plants that prevented the immune system from overreacting. This is the case when the children inhale the molecules in high concentration in the first year of life. The substance bears the name "arabinogalactan" and is therefore a so-called protective substance. Arabinogalactan occurs in large concentrations in animal feed plants. One of these fodder plants with the protective substance is the meadow foxtail.
For the series of experiments, the researchers tested how mice react to the sugar molecules in the meadow fox tail. It was found that the sugar molecule significantly weakens the immune response of the cells. But it depends on the amount of the dose administered. The Bochum-based researcher Marcus Peters said: "In small concentrations, the pollen of the meadow fox's tail can cause allergies, but can also prevent them in large doses and very early in life (of the children)."
Now the scientists want to clarify in further test series whether arabinogalactan can also be used to prevent allergies. So it would be conceivable that these sugar molecules could be used as a nasal spray against allergies and asthma diseases. (sb)
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