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Duration of Allergic Susceptibility in Maternal Transmission of Asthma Risk


Alexey V. Fedulov, MD, PhD, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Ave. HSPH-1, 1313. Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Asthma has its origins in early-life. Maternal, not paternal asthma is an important risk factor, but the mechanisms and the duration of the maternal effect are unknown.

Method of Study

Offspring of asthmatic and normal mice were sensitized with ovalbumin (OVA) at 1, 3, 6 and 10 weeks of age, challenged with aerosolized OVA 2 weeks later and tested for airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and allergic airway inflammation (AI).


Offspring of asthmatic, but not normal, mothers showed AHR and AI after OVA sensitization at week 1. Similarly increased susceptibility to OVA was observed when sensitized at 3 or 6 weeks, although the magnitude diminished. Offspring sensitized at 10 and challenged at 12 weeks showed some AI but no AHR.


In offspring from asthmatic mothers increased allergic susceptibility persisted through the young adulthood, albeit with gradual decline, which suggests a long-lived but reversible skewing of the developing immune system.

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