Author(s): Dietert RR, Zelikoff JT
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Childhood susceptibility to diseases linked with immune dysfunction affects over a quarter of the pediatric population in some countries. While this alone is a significant health issue, the actual impact of immune-related diseases extends over a lifetime and involves additional secondary conditions. Some comorbidities are well known (e.g., allergic rhinitis and asthma). However, no systematic approach has been used to identify life-long patterns of immune-based disease where the primary condition arises in childhood. Such information is useful for both disease prevention and treatment approaches. DATA SOURCES: Recent primary research papers as well as review articles were obtained from PubMed, Chem Abstracts, Biosis and from the personal files of the authors. Search words used were: the diseases and conditions shown Figs. 1 and 2 in conjunction with comorbid, comorbidities, pediatric, childhood, adult, immune, immune dysfunction, allergy, autoimmune, inflammatory, infectious, health risks, environment, risk factors. RESULTS: Childhood diseases such as asthma, type-1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, respiratory infections /rhinitis, recurrent otitis media, pediatric celiac, juvenile arthritis and Kawasaki disease are examples of significant childhood health problems where immune dysfunction plays a significant role. Each of these pediatric diseases is associated with increased risk of several secondary conditions, many of which appear only later in life. To illustrate, four prototypes of immune-related disease patterns (i.e., allergy, autoimmunity, inflammation and infectious disease) are shown as tools for: 1) enhanced disease prevention; 2) improved management of immune-based pediatric diseases; and 3) better recognition of underlying pediatric immune dysfunction. CONCLUSIONS: Identification of immune-related disease patterns beginning in childhood provides the framework for examining the underlying immune dysfunctions that can contribute to additional diseases in later life. Many pediatric diseases associated with dysfunctional immune responses have been linked with an elevated risk of other diseases or conditions as the child ages. Diseases within a pattern may be interlinked based on underlying immune dysfunctions and/or current therapeutic approaches for managing the entryway diseases. It may be beneficial to consider treatment options for the earliest presenting diseases that will concomitantly reduce the risk of immune-linked secondary conditions. Additionally, improved disease prevention is possible with more relevant and age-specific immune safety testing.
This article was published in World J Pediatr
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals