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Microbial Exposures in Infancy Predict Levels of the Immunoregulatory Cytokine Interleukin-4 in Filipino Young Adults

Citation

Tallman, Paula S.; Kuzawa, Christopher W.; Adair, Linda S.; Borja, Judith B.; & McDade, Thomas W. (2012). Microbial Exposures in Infancy Predict Levels of the Immunoregulatory Cytokine Interleukin-4 in Filipino Young Adults. American Journal of Human Biology, 24(4), 446-453. PMCID: PMC3372614

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Infancy represents a window of development during which long-term immunological functioning can be influenced. In this study, we evaluate proxies of microbial exposures in infancy as predictors of interleukin-4 (IL-4) in young adulthood. IL-4 is an immunoregulatory cytokine that plays a role in the pathogenesis of atopic and allergic diseases.
METHODS: Data were obtained from 1,403 participants in the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey, an ongoing population-based study in the Philippines. Relationships between microbial and nutritional environments in infancy and plasma IL-4 concentrations in adulthood were evaluated using tobit regression models.
RESULTS: Having older siblings and more episodes of respiratory illness in infancy significantly predicted lower concentrations of plasma IL-4 in adulthood. Unexpectedly, more episodes of diarrheal illness in infancy were associated with higher IL-4 in adulthood. Interactions between a composite household pathogen exposure score and the duration of exclusive breastfeeding approached significance. This interaction showed that the negative association between household pathogen exposure in infancy and adult IL-4 was only significant for individuals who had been exclusively breastfed for a short duration of time. Finally, currently living in an urban household was unexpectedly, negatively associated with adult IL-4. Associations were independent of early nutrition, socioeconomic status (SES), and urbanicity, as well as current measures of infection, body fat, SES, and smoking.
CONCLUSIONS: This study builds on a growing body of literature demonstrating that early ecological conditions have long-term effects on human biology by providing evidence that multiple proxies of microbial exposures in infancy are associated with adult IL-4.

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.22244

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published

2012

Journal Title

American Journal of Human Biology

Author(s)

Tallman, Paula S.
Kuzawa, Christopher W.
Adair, Linda S.
Borja, Judith B.
McDade, Thomas W.

PMCID

PMC3372614