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Papers of the Week

2022 Feb 28

Environ Pollut

Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics to prevent or combat air pollution consequences: The gut-lung axis.


Keulers L, Dehghani A, Knippels L, Garssen J, Papadopoulos N, Folkerts G, Braber S, van Bergenhenegouwen J
Environ Pollut. 2022 Feb 28:119066.
PMID: 35240267.


Air pollution exposure is a public health emergency, which attributes globally to an estimated seven million deaths on a yearly basis We are all exposed to air pollutants, varying from ambient air pollution hanging over cities to dust inside the home. It is a mixture of airborne particulate matter and gases that can be subdivided into three categories based on particle diameter. The smallest category called PM is the most abundant. A fraction of the particles included in this category might enter the blood stream spreading to other parts of the body. As air pollutants can enter the body via the lungs and gut, growing evidence links its exposure to gastrointestinal and respiratory impairments and diseases, like asthma, rhinitis, respiratory tract infections, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and abdominal pain. It has become evident that there exists a crosstalk between the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, commonly referred to as the gut-lung axis. Via microbial secretions, metabolites, immune mediators and lipid profiles, these two separate organ systems can influence each other. Well-known immunomodulators and gut health stimulators are probiotics, prebiotics, together called synbiotics. They might combat air pollution-induced systemic inflammation and oxidative stress by optimizing the microbiota composition and microbial metabolites, thereby stimulating anti-inflammatory pathways and strengthening mucosal and epithelial barriers. Although clinical studies investigating the role of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics in an air pollution setting are lacking, these interventions show promising health promoting effects by affecting the gastrointestinal- and respiratory tract. This review summarizes the current data on how air pollution can affect the gut-lung axis and might impact gut and lung health. It will further elaborate on the potential role of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics on the gut-lung axis, and gut and lung health.