The Dietary Fiber Pectin: Health Benefits and Potential for the Treatment of Allergies by Modulation of Gut Microbiota

Frank Blanco-Pérez, Hanna Steigerwald, Stefan Schülke, Stefan Vieths, Masako Toda, Stephan Scheurer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose of Review: The incidence of allergies is increasing and has been associated with several environmental factors including westernized diets. Changes in environment and nutrition can result in dysbiosis of the skin, gut, and lung microbiota altering the production of microbial metabolites, which may in turn generate epigenetic modifications. The present review addresses studies on pectin-mediated effects on allergies, including the immune modulating mechanisms by bacterial metabolites. Recent Findings: Recently, microbiota have gained attention as target for allergy intervention, especially with prebiotics, that are able to stimulate the growth and activity of certain microorganisms. Dietary fibers, which cannot be digested in the gastrointestinal tract, can alter the gut microbiota and lead to increased local and systemic concentrations of gut microbiota-derived short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These can promote the generation of peripheral regulatory T cells (Treg) by epigenetic modulation and suppress the inflammatory function of dendritic cells (DCs) by transcriptional modulation. The dietary fiber pectin (a plant-derived polysaccharide commonly used as gelling agent and dietary supplement) can alter the ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes in gut and lung microbiota, increasing the concentrations of SCFAs in feces and sera, and reducing the development of airway inflammation by suppressing DC function. Summary: Pectin has shown immunomodulatory effects on allergies, although the underlying mechanisms still need to be elucidated. It has been suggested that the different types of pectin may exert direct and/or indirect immunomodulatory effects through different mechanisms. However, little is known about the relation of certain pectin structures to allergies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
JournalCurrent Allergy and Asthma Reports
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct


  • Allergy
  • Dietary fiber
  • Microbiota
  • Pectin
  • Prebiotics
  • SCFA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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