The environment and the immune system in BiSC

As already explained in other news, environmental pollution is one of the largest risk factors for disease and premature death in the world today. Extensive scientific evidence from human and animal studies in the last decades has shown the significant role of such pollution in the appearance of cancer and respiratory, reproductive, cardiometabolic or neurodegenerative diseases, among others. Moreover, nowadays environmental pollutants (e.g., air pollution, pesticides, persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals) are in the spotlight, since in a relatively short period, 40-50 years, there has been a worldwide rapid increase in the prevalence of allergic diseases and other immune-related disorders, such as type 1 diabetes, autoimmune disorders or even early-onset cancer, that cannot be explained by genetic mutations. For instance, it is known that exposure to persistent organic pollutants and air pollution can increase the risk of suffering infections of the respiratory tract in infancy.

This is why in BiSC we are interested in the field of Environmental immunology, a relatively new and vital area of investigation that provides innovation at the intersection of immunology and the environment in which we live. The main function of the immune system is to identify and to protect against infections or other potentially damaging foreign bodies or agents (e.g. xenobiotics). Thus, understanding how anthropogenic toxicants affect the development, maintenance and function of the immune system is critical for achieving optimal human health. In BiSC project we aim to identify which and how environmental pollutants play a major role in the development of immune-related diseases from early in life. Soon we will be able to provide more information on how we plan to conduct our studies in the field of environmental immunology, but one of the advantages of BiSC is that thanks to the contributions of the BiSC families, we have detailed information on a diversity of a number of exposures during pregnancy and the first months of life, including air pollution or endocrine disruptors. Therefore, we have very detailed information on potential harmful exposures. Stay tunned!

This post has been written by Mireia Gascon, researcher of the BiSC Project.