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Cell Physiol Biochem. 2012;30(3):552-62. doi: 10.1159/000341437. Epub 2012 Jul 23.

Intrauterine undernourishment alters TH1/TH2 cytokine balance and attenuates lung allergic inflammation in wistar rats.

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  • 1Laboratorio de Imunologia dos Transplantes, Departamento de Imunologia, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.


IL-4 produced by Th2 cells can block cytokine production by Th1 cells, and Th1 IFN-γ is known to counterregulate Th2 immune response, inhibiting allergic eosinophilia. As intrauterine undernutrition can attenuate lung inflammation, we investigated the influence of intrauterine undernourishment on the Th1/Th2 cytokine balance and allergic lung inflammation. Intrauterine undernourished offspring were obtained from dams fed 50% of the nourished diet of their counterparts and were immunized at 9 weeks of age. We evaluated the cell counts and cytokine protein expression in the bronchoalveolar lavage, mucus production and collagen deposition, and cytokine gene expression and transcription factors in lung tissue 21 days after ovalbumin immunization. Intrauterine undernourishment significantly reduced inflammatory cell airway infiltration, mucus secretion and collagen deposition, in rats immunized and challenged. Intrauterine undernourished rats also exhibited an altered cytokine expression profile, including higher TNF-α and IL-1β expression and lower IL-6 expression than well-nourished rats following immunization and challenge. Furthermore, the intrauterine undernourished group showed reduced ratios of the IL-4/IFN-γ and the transcription factors GATA-3/T-Bet after immunization and challenge. We suggest that the attenuated allergic lung inflammation observed in intrauterine undernourished rats is related to an altered Th1/Th2 cytokine balance resulting from a reduced GATA-3/T-bet ratio.

Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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