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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2000 Sep;106(3):530-6.

Transplacental priming of the human immune system with environmental allergens can occur early in gestation.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.



Allergen-specific T cells play an important role in the allergic immune response to various environmental allergens. In vitro studies have shown that T-cell responses to these allergens do occur prenatally. Some allergens (milk proteins) appear to lead more often to fetal T-cell priming than others (house dust mite allergen, ovalbumin, and birch and grass pollen allergens).


We sought to determine the window of opportunity for prenatal T-cell priming with inhalant and nutritive allergens.


The T-cell reactivity of cord blood cells derived through cordocentesis from unborn (n = 62) and term babies (n = 114) in response to inhalant allergens (birch pollen major allergen, recombinant Bet v 1, and timothy grass major allergen, recombinant Phl p 1) was investigated.


The results demonstrate that allergen-specific T-cell reactivity is as common in preterm as in term infants (Bet v 1, 8% and 5%, respectively; Phl p 1, 20% and 25%, respectively).


Our data support the hypothesis that differential handling of the allergenic proteins by the feto-placental barrier and possibly by antigen-presenting cells may directly modulate the ensuing T-cell immune response.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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