Background Analyses of circulating chemokines offer novel tools to investigate the T helper (Th)1/Th2 imbalance in allergic disease in vivo.
Objective To relate circulating Th1- and Th2-associated chemokines in infancy to allergic disease, sensitization and probiotic supplementation.
Methods Circulating levels of Th1-associated CXC-chemokine ligand (CXCL)9, CXCL10 and CXCL11 and Th2-associated CC-chemokine ligand (CCL)17 and CCL22 were assessed with Luminex and CCL18 with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay at birth (n=109), 6 (n=104), 12 (n=116) and 24 months (n=123) in 161 infants completing a double-blind placebo-controlled allergy prevention trial with Lactobacillus reuteri during the last month of gestation and through the first year of life. The infants were followed regarding the development of allergic disease and sensitization until 2 years of age.
Results The Th2-associated chemokines CCL17 and CCL22 were the highest at birth and then decreased, whereas CCL18 and the Th1-associated chemokines increased with age. High Th2-associated chemokine levels were observed in children developing allergic disease. Sensitization was preceded by elevated levels of the Th2-associated CCL22 and reduced levels of the Th1-associated CXCL11 already at birth. The Th2-associated CCL17 was also elevated at birth in infants developing recurrent wheeze. A high Th2/Th1 ratio (CCL22/CXCL10) at birth associated with both sensitization and eczema development. The presence of L. reuteri in stool in the first week of life was associated with low CCL17 and CCL22 and high CXCL11 levels at 6 months of age. High Th1-associated chemokine levels were associated with day-care.
Conclusion and Clinical Relevance Allergic disease and sensitization in infancy was associated with low circulating Th1- and high Th2-associated chemokine levels already from birth. Circulating chemokines are useful for investigating the Th1/Th2 imbalance in allergic disease in vivo. Elucidation of the role of chemokines in allergic diseases may lead to future treatments (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01285830).
Cite this as: T. R. Abrahamsson, M. Sandberg Abelius,, A. Forsberg, B. Björkstén and M. C. Jenmalm, Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2011 (41) 1729–1739.