Exposure to moderate air pollution during late pregnancy and cord blood cytokine secretion in healthy neonates

Philipp Latzin, Urs Frey, Jakob Armann, Elisabeth Kieninger, Oliver Fuchs, Martin Röösli, Bianca Schaub*

*Corresponding author for this work
43 Citations (Scopus)


Background/Objectives: Ambient air pollution can alter cytokine concentrations as shown in vitro and following short-term exposure to high air pollution levels in vivo. Exposure to pollution during late pregnancy has been shown to affect fetal lymphocytic immunophenotypes. However, effects of prenatal exposure to moderate levels of air pollutants on cytokine regulation in cord blood of healthy infants are unknown. Methods: In a birth cohort of 265 healthy term-born neonates, we assessed maternal exposure to particles with an aerodynamic diameter of 10 μm or less (PM 10), as well as to indoor air pollution during the last trimester, specifically the last 21, 14, 7, 3 and 1 days of pregnancy. As a proxy for traffic-related air pollution, we determined the distance of mothers' homes to major roads. We measured cytokine and chemokine levels (MCP-1, IL-6, IL-10, IL-1ß, TNF-α and GM-CSF) in cord blood serum using LUMINEX technology. Their association with pollution levels was assessed using regression analysis, adjusted for possible confounders. Results: Mean (95%-CI) PM 10 exposure for the last 7 days of pregnancy was 18.3 (10.3-38.4 μg/m 3). PM 10 exposure during the last 3 days of pregnancy was significantly associated with reduced IL-10 and during the last 3 months of pregnancy with increased IL-1ß levels in cord blood after adjustment for relevant confounders. Maternal smoking was associated with reduced IL-6 levels. For the other cytokines no association was found. Conclusions: Our results suggest that even naturally occurring prenatal exposure to moderate amounts of indoor and outdoor air pollution may lead to changes in cord blood cytokine levels in a population based cohort.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23130
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Research Areas and Centers

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


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