The Slc11a1 (Nramp1) gene controls efficacy of mycobacterial treatment of allergic asthma

J.J. Smit, H. van Loveren, M.O. Hoekstra, K. Karimi, G. Folkerts*, F.P. Nijkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The Slc11a1 (Nramp1) gene controls efficacy of mycobacterial treatment of allergic asthma.

Smit JJ, Van Loveren H, Hoekstra MO, Karimi K, Folkerts G, Nijkamp FP.

Department of Pharmacology and Pathophysiology, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Genes controlling antibacterial resistance may be important in the hygiene hypothesis, which states that lack of bacterial infections during childhood would favor development of allergic disease. We, therefore, studied whether Nramp1 (Slc11a1) alleles, which determine susceptibility (Nramp1(s)) or resistance (Nramp1(r)) to intracellular bacteria, affect the efficacy of heat-killed Mycobacterium vaccae in the treatment of allergic asthma in a mouse model. Treatment of OVA-sensitized Nramp1(s) mice with M. vaccae suppressed airway hyperresponsiveness, airway eosinophilia, Ag-specific IgE, and IL-4 and IL-5 production after OVA aerosol challenge. In contrast, M. vaccae hardly affected these parameters in Nramp1(r) mice. In addition, The Nramp1 gene affected both T cell-mediated responses to M. vaccae in vivo and the level of macrophage activation after stimulation with M. vaccae in vitro. In conclusion, the efficacy of M. vaccae in preventing allergic and asthmatic manifestations in a mouse model is strongly affected by Nramp1 alleles. These findings could have important implications for the future use of mycobacteria and their components in the prevention or treatment of allergic asthma. A new link is described between genes, the environment, and the development of allergy, in which the Nramp1 gene fine tunes the hygiene hypothesis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)754-760
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003


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