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Keywords:

  • prenatal stress;
  • psychosocial;
  • cytokines;
  • Th1;
  • Th2

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to determine the association between prenatal stress and immune function in human adults. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 34 healthy young women whose mothers experienced major negative life events during their pregnancy (Prenatal Stress, PS group, mean age 25, SD ± 4.34 years), and from a female comparison group (n = 28, CG, mean age 24 ± 3.40 years), were stimulated with phytohemagglutinin (PHA), and subsequent cytokine production was measured. A bias for T-helper 2 (Th2) cytokine production due to an overproduction of IL-4 relative to IFN-γ after PHA stimulation was observed in PS subjects. In addition, IL-6 and IL-10 were also significantly elevated. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to suggest a direct association between prenatal stress exposure and alterations in immune parameters in adult women. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 50: 579–587, 2008.