Ashley-Martin J, Dodds L, Arbuckle TE, Levy AR, Platt RW, Marshall JS. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology. 2015;26(2):161-7. doi: 10.1111/pai.12340
The fetal immune system is a critical window of development. The epithelial cell-derived cytokines, thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), and interleukin-33 (IL-33) have received attention for their role in allergic responses but not been studied during this critical window. The objectives were to assess correlations among IL-33, TSLP, and IgE in umbilical cord blood samples and identify prenatal predictors of these biomarkers.
This study utilized data and banked cord blood collected in the Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) Study, a trans-Canada cohort study of 2001 pregnant women. Our analytic sample comprised the 1254 women with a singleton, term birth with a cord blood sample. Spearman correlation coefficients (SCC) and logistic regression models were used to examine associations between biomarkers and identify potential predictors of elevated biomarker levels.
Thymic stromal lymphopoietin and IL-33 were more strongly correlated with each other (SCC = 0.75, p < 0.0001) than with IgE (IL-33 SCC = 0.14, TSLP SCC = 0.21). Maternal allergy, heavy street traffic, and elevated birth weight were significantly associated with jointly elevated TSLP and IL-33 levels, whereas maternal age and female infant sex were inversely associated with elevated IgE.
In this population of Canadian women and infants, TSLP and IL-33 were detectable in cord blood, more strongly correlated with each other than with IgE, and associated with maternal characteristics indicative of inflammatory responses. This study motivates investigation into the value of cord blood IL-33 and TSLP levels as childhood allergy predictors and raises interesting questions regarding in utero coordinated regulation of these cytokines.