Prenatal exposure to house dust mite allergen (Der p 1), cord blood T cell phenotype and cytokine production and atopic dermatitis during the first year of life.Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2004; 15(4):308-15PA
This study investigated the influence of prenatal exposure to house dust mite (HDM, D. pteronyssinus) on interleukin (IL)-2, interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and IL-4 producing CD4(+) and CD8(+) T lymphocytes in cord blood as well as on the development of sensitization and occurrence of atopic dermatitis (AD) as the first symptom of allergy during the first year of life. Dust samples (n = 22) were collected by vacuum cleaning the maternal mattress during early to mid-pregnancy. In these samples, the amount of the major HDM antigen (Der p 1) was assessed by a sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay technique (detection limit 0.004 microg/g dust). Flow cytometry was used to determine cord blood lymphocyte subtypes and to quantify the intracellular amounts of IL-2, IFN-gamma and IL-4 produced by cord blood CD4(+) helper and CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes, both spontaneously and after stimulation with phorbol-12-mirystate-13-acetate and ionomycin. Children were followed for 1 yr for the presence of symptoms associated with allergy. In addition, at the age of 1 yr specific IgE to different classical inhalant and food allergens was measured. Higher prenatal exposure to Der p 1 (>0.2 microg/g dust) was associated with a significant lower percentage of IFN-gamma producing stimulated CD4(+) T lymphocytes, compared with lower prenatal Der p 1 exposure (p = 0.03). The presence of AD during the first year of life (n = 9) was associated with an increased number of naive CD4(+) CD45RA(+) lymphocytes (p = 0.03), with an increased spontaneous IL-4 production by CD8(+) lymphocytes (p = 0.04) and with a decreased percentage of IFN-gamma producing stimulated CD4(+) lymphocytes (p = 0.04). Furthermore, exposure to HDM during pregnancy tended to be higher in mothers of children with AD during the first year of life when compared with those without AD (p = 0.08). This study shows that the level of prenatal exposure to Der p 1 influences the immune profile of cord blood T lymphocytes and the clinical outcome in early life. Therefore, the prenatal environment must be regarded as a possible early risk factors for allergic diseases in children.