The researchers investigated differences in immune function markers in cord blood between infants born to mothers in high stress environments and those born to mothers with lower stress and found marked differences in patterns that may be associated with asthma risk later in life.
"This is the first study in humans to show that increased stress experienced during pregnancy in these urban, largely minority women, is associated with different patterns of cord blood cytokine production to various environmental stimuli, relative to babies born to lower-stressed mothers," said Rosalind Wright, M.D., M.P.H., associate physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
The findings have been published online ahead of print publication in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Asthma is known to be more prevalent among ethnic minorities and among disadvantaged urban communities, but the disparity is not completely explained by known physical factors. Urban women living in the inner-city also experience significant stress, particularly minority women.
The role of stress in asthma development is poorly understood, but animal studies have suggested that the mother's stress during pregnancy can influence the offspring's immune system, starting in the womb.
To determine whether a similar transference of stress-mediated immune differences may occur with humans, Dr. Wright and colleagues recruited pregnant women in several cites, including Boston, Baltimore, New York and St. Louis. Their families were largely ethnic minorities, 20 percent of whom were living below the poverty level. Each child's mother or a father had a history of asthma or allergy.
In total, 557 families answered detailed questions about the various stressors in their lives, at home (including domestic violence), in their financial situations and in their neighborhoods (community violence). When the infants were born, their cord blood was collected and isolated immune cells were stimulated with a number of factors (allergens like dust and cockroach, viral and bacterial stimulants), then analyzed for the production of various cytokines as indicators of how the child's immune system was primed to respond to the environment.
The researchers found that the patterns of cytokines related to certain stimulants differed based on the level of stress mothers reported.
"The ctyokine patterns seen in the higher stress groups, which are an indication of how the child's immune system is functioning at birth, may be a marker of increased risk for developing asthma and allergy as they get older," explained Dr. Wright.
"For example, while the debate continues as to whether primary sensitization to allergens begins before birth, these findings suggest the possibility that prenatal stress may enhance the neonates' response to inhalant antigens, specifically those antigens that the fetus is likely to encounter more directly in utero, like dust mite."
The research, a prospective cohort study funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will continue as the infants grow up to determine whether maternal stress levels do indeed have an impact on asthma development.
"The current findings suggest that psychological stress is involved in programming of the infant immune response and that this influence begins during pregnancy," said Dr. Wright. "As these infants mature, we will learn how these factors manifest later in terms of the development of asthma and allergy."
Keely Savoie | EurekAlert!
Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University
The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy