Determinants of the relationship between cytokine production in pregnant women and their infants

Yenny Djuardi, Heri Wibowo, Taniawati Supali, Iwan Ariawan, Robbert G M Bredius, Maria Yazdanbakhsh, Laura C. Rodrigues, Erliyani Sartono

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Exposure to environmental factors during fetal life and infancy is thought to play an important role in the early development of innate and adaptive immunity. The immunological relationship between mother and infant and the effect that environmental exposures have during pregnancy and early childhood have not been studied extensively. Here the production of cytokines was measured in 146 pairs of mothers and their 2- month-old infants. The effect of place of residence, socio-economic variables, parasitic infections as well as maternal and child characteristics on measured cytokine production was determined. Mothers producing high levels of IL-10, IFN-γ and IL-5 were more likely to have infants who also produced high levels of these cytokines either spontaneously (OR 2.6(95%CI 1.2-5.4), OR 2.9(CI 1.3-6.6), OR 11.2(CI 4.6-27.2), respectively) or in response to PHA (IL-10: OR 3.0(CI 1.4-6.6), IFN-γ: OR 2.0(CI 1.0-4.2), respectively) even after adjustment for potential confounding variables. This was not the case for TNF-α. In response to LPS, place of residence was a strong determinant of infant IL-10 (OR 0.2(CI 0.1-0.9)) and TNF-α (OR 0.3(CI 0.1-0.9)) production. Maternal protozoan infections was independently associated with reduced infant IL10 in response to PHA and to LPS as well as reduced TNF-α and IFN-γ in response to PHA. These results indicate strong relationship between maternal and infant's cellular immune responses even after taking into account many environmental influences that could affect infant's response directly or indirectly through uterine microenvironment. However, place of residence and intestinal infections may still directly affect the immune responses of the infant. Taken together, the study provides evidence for imprinted cytokine responses of an infant which may have implications for their reaction to incoming antigens, warranting further investigation into the role that genetics or epigenetics play in shaping the cytokine response by an infant to self or external antigens.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere7711
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2009


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