Objective The aim of our study was to conduct a prospective investigation into the potential association of cord blood proliferative response and cytokine production in response to various stimuli on the development of atopic dermatitis (AD) at the age of 3 years.
Methods Cord blood mononuclear cells (CBMC) from 40 healthy term neonates were isolated. The proliferative response of CBMC stimulated with IL-2, betalactoglobulin (BLG) and house dust mite allergen (Der p 1) was assessed by liquid scintillation counting and the stimulation index (SI) was calculated. The cytokines interleukin (IL-)13, interferon (IFN-)γ, IL-10 and IL-18 in the cell culture supernatants in response to phytohaemagglutinin (PHA), Der p 1 and BLG were measured using the ELISA technique. After 3 years, symptoms of AD were obtained with a questionnaire completed by the parents.
Results We observed significantly higher IL-13 levels in response to PHA in children who subsequently developed symptoms of AD (S: median, 291 pg/mL) compared with asymptomatic children (No-S: 149 pg/mL; P=0.021, Wilcoxon test). Similarly, in response to Der p 1 significantly higher IL-13 levels were observed in symptomatic children (S: 168.6; No-S: 61.6 pg/mL; P=0.0084). In response to BLG, IL-13 levels were 287.2 (S) and 123.6 pg/mL (No-S; P=0.19). No significant differences were found when comparing the IFN-γ levels in CBMC cultures stimulated with PHA (S: 10.2; No-S: 17.6 IU/L; P=0.78), Der p 1 (S: 307.6; No-S: 616.2 IU/L; P=0.2) or BLG (S: 18; No-S: 28.5 IU/L; P=0.83; Fig. 2). The IL-18 and IL-10 levels and the stimulation index in response to IL-2, BLG and Der p 1 showed no significant difference between children who subsequently developed symptoms of AD and asymptomatic children.
Conclusion Our data suggest that enhanced IL-13 levels at birth are associated with the subsequent development of atopic symptoms at the age of 3 years.