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Association between neopterin in cord blood, urinary neopterin in early childhood and the development of atopic dermatitis, asthma and hay fever


Elisabeth Horak, University Hospital for Children and Adolescents, A-6020 Innsbruck, Anichstr.35, Austria
Tel.: +43 512 504 23600
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It is generally accepted that the increased prevalence of atopic disease is due to a disturbed balance of T-helper (Th)1/Th2-type immunity. Upon stimulation by the Th1-type cytokine interferon (IFN)-γ, human monocytes/macrophages release large amounts of neopterin. Thus, the determination of neopterin concentrations is an indirect measure of the levels of IFN-γ and allows us to monitor Th1-type immune response. We evaluated whether neopterin concentrations in the neonatal cord blood could be a valuable marker predicting atopic disease in early childhood and whether there is a difference in actually determined urinary neopterin concentrations in children with and without atopic disease. Five hundred and five children born during 1997–1999 were enrolled, with cord blood neopterin data available at birth. The International study of asthma and allergies in childhood (ISAAC) questionnaire was used to assess the prevalence of wheezy bronchitis (asthma), atopic dermatitis and allergic rhinitis. Morning urinary samples were collected and urinary neopterin concentration was measured by high-pressure liquid chromatography. By the average age of 6 yr, the prevalence of atopic disease in the last 12 months was 31%. There was no significant correlation between cord blood and urinary neopterin concentrations at age 6 yr, and between cord blood neopterin and later atopic disease. Urinary neopterin concentrations were significant lower in children with a family history of atopic disease (p = 0.02). In this study, cord blood neopterin concentration was not a predictor for atopic disease in early childhood. Family history of atopic disease was associated with lower urinary neopterin levels at age 6 yr, which might mirror a Th1/Th2 imbalance.