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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Aug;128(2):397-402.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2011.04.044. Epub 2011 Jun 16.

Adaptive cytokine production in early life differentially predicts total IgE levels and asthma through age 5 years.

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Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona HSC, Tucson, AZ, USA.



Although it has been postulated that allergic disease is associated with a predominance of T(H)2 cells, whether IgE levels and asthma might differ in their relation to early-life cytokine production is not known.


We sought to assess the relationship between first-year adaptive immune cytokine production with asthma and total IgE levels through age 5 years in a nonselected birth cohort.


Mitogen (concanavalin A/phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate)-stimulated IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, and IFN-γ levels were measured in supernatants from cord blood mononuclear cells and PBMCs at birth, 3 months, and 12 months. Total serum IgE levels and physician-diagnosed active asthma were assessed at 1, 2, 3, and 5 years. Longitudinal models that adjust for both T(H)1 and T(H)2 cytokine production were used to determine relations of outcomes.


Relations of cytokines to total IgE levels and asthma were strikingly different. Total IgE levels through age 5 years were positively associated with 12-month IL-4 (P < .001), IL-5 (P < .001), and IL-13 (P = .02) levels when adjusted for IFN-γ levels and inversely associated with 12-month IFN-γ levels after IL-4 adjustment (P = .01). Active asthma through age 5 years was positively associated with 3-month IL-13 levels adjusted for IFN-γ (odds ratio, 2.6; P < .001) and inversely associated with 3-month IFN-γ levels adjusted for IL-13 (odds ratio, 0.5; P = .001). These relations were strongest for nonatopic asthma.


Total IgE levels and active asthma through age 5 years are associated with adaptive cytokine production in early life, although relations vary temporally and with regard to the relative importance of individual cytokines.

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