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Clin Exp Allergy. 2009 Aug;39(8):1160-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2009.03253.x. Epub 2009 Apr 28.

Regulatory cells, cytokine pattern and clinical risk factors for asthma in infants and young children with recurrent wheeze.

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1
Serviço de Imunoalergologia, Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Central, Rua Jacinta Marto, Lisboa, Portugal. miguel.borrego@sapo.pt

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Several risk factors for asthma have been identified in infants and young children with recurrent wheeze. However, published literature has reported contradictory findings regarding the underlying immunological mechanisms.

OBJECTIVES:

This study was designed to assess and compare the immunological status during the first 2 years in steroid-naive young children with >or= three episodes of physician-confirmed wheeze (n=50), with and without clinical risk factors for developing subsequent asthma (i.e. parental asthma or a personal history of eczema and/or two of the following: wheezing without colds, a personal history of allergic rhinitis and peripheral blood eosinophilia >4%), with age-matched healthy controls (n=30).

METHODS:

Peripheral blood CD4(+)CD25(+) and CD4(+)CD25(high) T cells and their cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 (CTLA-4), GITR and Foxp3 expression were analysed by flow cytometry. Cytokine (IFN-gamma, TGF-beta and IL-10), CTLA-4 and Foxp3 mRNA expression were evaluated (real-time PCR) after peripheral blood mononuclear cell stimulation with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) (24 h) and house dust mite (HDM) extracts (7th day).

RESULTS:

Flow cytometry results showed a significant reduction in the absolute number of CD4(+)CD25(high) and the absolute and percentage numbers of CD4(+)CD25(+)CTLA-4(+) in wheezy children compared with healthy controls. Wheezy children at a high risk of developing asthma had a significantly lower absolute number of CD4(+)CD25(+) (P=0.01) and CD4(+)CD25(high) (P=0.04), compared with those at a low risk. After PMA stimulation, CTLA-4 (P=0.03) and Foxp3 (P=0.02) expression was diminished in wheezy children compared with the healthy children. After HDM stimulation, CTLA-4 (P=0.03) and IFN-gamma (P=0.04) expression was diminished in wheezy children compared with healthy children. High-risk children had lower expression of IFN-gamma (P=0.03) compared with low-risk and healthy children and lower expression of CTLA-4 (P=0.01) compared with healthy children.

CONCLUSIONS:

Although our findings suggest that some immunological parameters are impaired in children with recurrent wheeze, particularly with a high risk for asthma, further studies are needed in order to assess their potential as surrogate predictor factors for asthma in early life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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