Pathogens being replaced with allergens or immunogens: a theoretical perspective



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Letter to Editor


  • D Gupta


In a recent article, Silverberg et al (1) reinstated the skewed epidemiology of allergic diseases across the continents by documenting in their study that compared to children born in United States, foreign-born children have significantly low incidence of allergic diseases; however this favorable allergic disease profile among children born outside United States is lost after living in United States for a decade and over. Though these results bring to attention the hygiene hypothesis (2-4) as the underlying mechanism, it is important to realize how the hygiene hypothesis evolves into this observed transcontinental skew. First of all, the human cells have evolved to counter biological pathogens wherein sometimes these cells fail to adequately counter these pathogens resulting in self-limiting diseases or complicated illnesses. Secondly, these same human cells become confused when dealing with the abundance of chemical “pathogens” (allergens or immunogens) because the cidal (killer) activity that is stimulated by living biological pathogens to eventually annihilate the inciting stimulants, cannot direct its killing power to non-living chemical “pathogens”. Therefore, this induced-killing power is often misdirected to the invaded human body itself resulting in allergy or auto-immunity. This does not mean that we should revert back to pre-hygiene era with rampant epidemics caused by the biological pathogens.

How to Cite

Gupta D. Pathogens being replaced with allergens or immunogens: a theoretical perspective. Indian J Community Health [Internet]. 2013 Dec. 31 [cited 2022 Dec. 3];25(4):498-9. Available from:


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