allergy and evolution

Abstract of the chapter

Evolutionary aspects of allergic disease

Alvaro Daschner

In bronchial asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, food allergy or urticaria, the immune system shows an inadequate response against different normally innocuous agents. These are mainly biological products in our environment. There have been many changes in our lifestyle in the last decades and the interpretation of a possible maladaptation is especially interesting when assessing these pathologies. The prevalence of allergic disease has undergone an important rise above all in the second half of the 20th century. Although allergic disease has only scarcely been approached in an evolutionary context, three hypotheses have principally been postulated: the toxin hypothesis, the mould hypothesis and the parasite hypothesis in the context of the hygiene hypothesis.

This chapter deals with these hypotheses, as well as with an evolutionary explanation of the frequent appearance of urticaria in the context of gastro-allergic Anisakiasis. Here, urticaria would be the price for an early expulsion of the parasite Anisakis simplex.