Allergic diseases arise in response to normally innocuous environmental agents, including airborne allergens and the foods we eat.
Why does the immune system cause this mischief and why is it becoming so prevalent?
The answer to both these questions is T-regs.
T-regs, better known as T-regulatory lymphocytes, were first discovered about 20 years ago. However, over the past 10 years scientists have learned the vital role they play in causing allergy. As their name implies, these cells regulate the immune system. When they function normally they regulate the immune system to be tolerant to airborne allergens and foods (that is, to be non-allergic).
As it turns out, it seems to be the proinflammatory environment created since the industrial revolution that has caused the T-regs to go awry. The main environmental factors are modern chemicals, petroleum exhausts, plus our water and food supply that contains chemicals and antibiotics.
One of the biggest arenas in immunologic research is to find a way to get the T-regs back into a friendly mode, despite the pro-inflammatory environment we have created for ourselves.