Allergic Sensitization and Allergen Exposure
During Pregnancy Favor the Development
of Atopy in the Neonate

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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FROM:   Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2001;   124 (1-3) Jan-Mar:   193–6

Herz U, Joachim R, Ahrens B, Scheffold A, Radbruch A, Renz H

Department of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostic,
Hospital of the Philipps University,
Marburg, Germany.

BACKGROUND:   Several studies have considered that the in utero environment plays an important role in the onset of the allergic phenotype. We assessed whether allergic sensitization and allergen exposure during pregnancy favor the postnatal onset of allergy in the neonate.

METHODS:   BALB/c mice were sensitized to ovalbumin (OVA) before mating followed by allergen aerosol exposure during pregnancy. T and B cell responses in offspring were followed up until day 60 postpartum. At the age of 4 weeks offspring were exposed to a heterologous antigen, beta–lactoglobulin (BLG).

RESULTS:   Pregnant mice developed immediate hypersensitivity responses and Th–2/ Th–0 immunity following allergen aerosol exposure. At birth, T cells from offspring of nonsensitized BALB/c mice were characterized by an impaired IFN–gamma production, which was lowered even further in offspring of OVA–sensitized BALB/c mice. Offspring of OVA–sensitized BALB/c mice responded with immediate–type cutaneous hypersensitivity reactions to OVA which could be related to the pre– and postnatal transfer of maternal OVA–specific IgG1 antibodies. After exposure to BLG, offspring of OVA–sensitized BALB/c mice developed an accelerated Th–2–driven immune response compared to offspring from nonsensitized BALB/c mice as indicated by enhanced anti–BLG IgG1 antibody production and increased numbers of positive immediate–type cutaneous hypersensitivity reactions to BLG.

CONCLUSION:   Our data suggest that Th–2/Th–0 immunity present during pregnancy has a decisive impact on shaping the Th–1/Th–2 T cell profile in response to postnatal allergen exposure.

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