The paper in brief Allergic responses replicate the immune reaction to parasites such as worms, and are therefore thought to arise from misdirected immune responses. Palm et al . ( page 465 ) propose instead that a range of allergic-type immune responses evolved as protection against environmental toxins, such as venom and irritants. The authors argue that allergies represent a subset of these responses that have been activated to excess. The idea of 'intentional' allergic reactions contradicts long-standing immunological dogma. A multitasking defence David Artis & Rick M. Maizels The prevalence of allergic diseases has reached pandemic proportions in industrialized countries. Although our understanding of the pathways that promote allergy is growing, we still lack good answers to two central conundrums. First, why did allergic responses evolve when they are so damaging to the human body? And second, what do such unlikely triggers as pollen, shellfish and snake venom have in common that provokes similar allergic responses? Palm and colleagues suggest that allergic reactions have evolved both as a defence against foreign toxins and to promote hazard-avoidance behaviour in animals. These challenging ideas should provoke new thinking in this critical area of research. Conventional wisdom holds that allergic
Nature – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 25, 2012
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