Allergen-specific T cell reactivity in cord blood: The influence of maternal cytokine production

M. V. Kopp*, C. Zehle, J. Pichler, Z. Szépfalusi, M. Moseler, K. Deichmann, J. Forster, J. Kuehr

*Corresponding author for this work
51 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Successful pregnancy is dependent upon T helper (Th)2-type-dominated immunological responsiveness in gestation-associated compartments. Objective: In our study we observed the influence of the maternal Th2-associated cytokine pattern on the naive fetal T cell phenotype and asked if circulating Th2 cytokines of atopic mothers affects the Th1/Th2 differentiation of the fetus. Methods: Cord blood mononuclear cells (CBMC) and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of the corresponding mothers were isolated. The proliferative response of CBMC and PBMC to Betalactoglobulin (BLG) was assessed by liquid scintillation counting. The cytokines interferon (IFN)-γ, and interleukin (IL)-5, IL-10 and IL-13 in the cell culture supernatants were measured using the ELISA technique. We then defined two subgroups based on maternal levels of specific IgE against aeroallergens: sensitized mothers (MA+) and their neonates (NMA+) (n=18) and non-sensitized mothers (MA-) and their neonates (NMA-) (n=29). Results: Nearly all mothers (98%) and neonates (92%) had a positive proliferation response after stimulation with BLG (mean stimulation index (10-90 percentile): neonates: 7 (2-15); mothers 14 (5-29)). In supernatants of BLG-stimulated cell cultures, sensitized mothers showed a significantly lower IFN-γ concentration in comparison to non-sensitized mothers (MA+ =25; MA- =123 IU/L; P<0,05), whereas the neonates did not differ significantly (NMA+ =306; NMA- =224 IU/L; n. s.). Nor was any difference found in the IL-13 concentration between the two groups of sensitized and non-sensitized mothers (MA+ =48; MA- =125 pg/mL; n. s.). CBMC of neonates with a sensitized mother showed significantly higher IL-13 concentrations in response to BLG than neonates of non-sensitized mothers (NMA+ =1442, NMA- 738 pg/mL; P<0.05). The IL-5 and IL-10 concentrations did not differ significantly within the neonatal and the maternal subgroups. Conclusions: Our data suggests that maternal sensitization to allergens is associated with the reduced maternal production of the Th2 antagonist IFN-γ and elevated production of the Th2 cytokine IL-13 in the offspring.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical and Experimental Allergy
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1536-1543
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2001

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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