With modifications to food production, manufacturing, and processing, nanotechnologies have transformed food technology with the goal of making our food safer and healthier. Food additives, phytosanitary treatments, processing aids, and surfaces that come into contact with stored food can all transmit nanoparticles that people might ingest. Mohammad Issa from the University of Paris-Saclay and colleagues noted in a paper that was just published in Frontiers in Allergy that such a large change to food production might have unanticipated health effects. The scientists provided data that suggests nanoparticles pass the placenta to reach growing foetuses, putting them at an increased risk of potentially fatal food allergies.
“Due to the immunotoxic and biocidal properties of nanoparticles, exposure may disrupt the host-intestinal microbiota’s beneficial exchanges and may interfere with intestinal barrier and gut-associated immune system development in fetus and neonate,” said Dr Karine Adel-Patient, corresponding author of the study. “This may be linked to the epidemic of immune-related disorders in children, such as food allergies – a major public health concern.”
An increase in allergies
When the immune system overreacts to dietary proteins, food allergies develop. Normal oral tolerance in children allows them to consume without their bodies reacting negatively to food proteins, but if the intestinal barrier or immune system are damaged, they may instead become sensitised and have an allergic reaction.
Between 2-5% of adults and 6-8% of children suffer from food allergies, and prevalence has increased significantly in recent years. The increased frequency of allergies in children indicates that early-life environmental variables are probably crucial. Environmental factors are known to have a substantial impact in the development of allergies.
Young children’s gut health is influenced by their food and surroundings, and lack of a variety of dietary proteins as well as gut bacteria might hinder the development of oral tolerance.
Nanoparticles were transmitted.
The scientists concentrated on three nanoparticle-containing chemicals that are often used in food in order to comprehend how nanoparticles might upset this delicate equilibrium. “Such agents can cross the placental barrier and then reach the developing fetus,” explained Adel-Patient. “Excretion in milk is also suggested, continuing to expose the neonate.”
While nanoparticles have been shown to pass the placenta in rats, there is evidence that the additives also do so in humans. The number of species and their proportions in the gut microbiome are altered by nanoparticles, which are not absorbed but rather concentrate there. This is significant for the emergence of allergies given the evidence supporting the significance of the gut microbiome in the formation of a well-educated immune system. Another crucial element of a healthy response to dietary proteins is the epithelial intestinal barrier, which is similarly impacted by nanoparticles.
The scientists noted that while evidence for immunotoxicity is more difficult to assemble, there is evidence to suggest that these nanoparticles have adverse effects on human gut-associated lymphoid tissue. According to data from rodent research, this shows that the impact on the immune system is larger than currently believed. These, however, often represent a proportionately larger dosage than the projected human intake.
“The impact of such exposure on the development of food allergy has not been assessed to date,” warned Adel-Patient. “Our review highlights the urgent need for researchers to assess the risk related to exposure to foodborne inorganic nanoparticles during a critical window of susceptibility and its impact on children health.”