Thrasher Research Fund - Medical research grants to improve the lives of children

Project Details

Early Career

Status: Funded - Open

Intestinal Bifidobacteria in infants at high risk of developing allergies

Alba Boix-Amorós, PhD


BACKGROUND: Atopic diseases have increased dramatically over recent decades and are among the most common chronic medical conditions affecting children, representing a global public health issue. Although heredity plays an important role in allergic risk, environmental factors, such as microbial exposures, are likely behind this recent increase in disease incidence. GAP: Strong evidence suggests that colonization with Bifidobacterium species are required for proper immune development, and their loss have been associated with a higher risk of developing atopic diseases. However, the specific mechanisms by which this protection happens are poorly understood. HYPOTHESIS: We hypothesize that colonization of Bifidobacterium strains in the infant gut is mediated by birth mode and feeding patterns, and that specific Bifidobacterium strains will produce metabolites that lower the risk of developing allergies. METHODS: We will isolate, identify and quantify intestinal Bifidobacterium strains from the stool of infants at risk of developing allergies, assess their ability to metabolize human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), and study their association with allergic outcomes. RESULTS: We have recently identified an enrichment of gut B. infantis in children with lower risk of developing atopy. Moreover, specific HMOs, the primary energy source of infant Bifidobacteria, were identified in the milk of mothers whose infants were at lower risk of developing allergies. IMPACT: Results from this project will facilitate the development of microbial therapeutics that prevent or lower the risk of atopic diseases, such as bacterial byproducts of HMO metabolism (“postbiotics”) that could be administered orally to newborns at risk. Website Link:

Supervising Institution:
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

José Clemente

Project Location:
New York

Award Amount: