Animal shed Bacillus licheniformis spores possess allergy-protective as well as inflammatory properties

Kay Vogel, Nicole Blümer, Melanie Korthals, Jessica Mittelstädt, Holger Garn, Markus Ege, Erika von Mutius, Sören Gatermann, Albrecht Bufe, Torsten Goldmann, Karin Schwaiger, Harald Renz, Sven Brandau, Johann Bauer, Holger Heine, Otto Holst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Background: Numerous epidemiologic studies have demonstrated an allergy-protective effect of farm life early in childhood. It has been hypothesized that environmental exposure to microbes may contribute to this effect. Because of their small size and thereby their potential for deposition in lower airways of small children, bacterial spores may be candidates for such allergy-protective effects. Objective: To investigate immune responses elicited by exposure to Bacillus spores in experimental settings. Methods: Animal shed and mattress dusts were analyzed for bacteria and fungi by aerobic and anaerobic growth. Bacillus licheniformis, the most prominent microorganism found in these samples, was investigated with respect to spore specific stimulation of pattern recognition receptors, monocyte-derived dendritic cells and TH-cell polarization in vitro as well as to the prevention of asthma development in a mouse model of allergic asthma. Results: In vitro, B licheniformis spores activated a TH1 cytokine expression profile. In vivo application of these spores resulted in less spore-specific but long-lasting immune activation preventing eosinophilia and goblet cell hyperplasia; however, they provoked an influx of neutrophils in lung tissue of asthmatic mice. Conclusion: Bacterial spores may contribute to the allergy-protective properties of farming environments, but their persistence in the lung causes ongoing immune activation in mouse experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-312.e8
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Allergy protection
  • Bacillus licheniformis spores
  • animal shed dust
  • hygiene hypothesis
  • ovalbumin mouse model


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