Abstract Background: Asthma and other atopic diseases are strongly hereditary. Although the mother might play a special role, the mechanisms for such an effect are not clear. Objective: We sought to investigate the influence of maternal immune responses to cat and mite allergens on (1) maternal symptoms, (2) the development of immune responses in the infant, and (3) the development of allergic disease during the first 3 years of life. Methods: In sera from 465 mothers and 424 infants (cord blood), as well as in sera from 230 of the children at age 2 to 3 years, total IgE and IgE antibodies were measured by using CAP testing; IgG and IgG4 antibodies for the cat allergen Fel d 1 were measured by means of radioimmunoprecipitation. Results: In both mothers and children, approximately 15% of sera contained IgG antibodies to Fel d 1 without IgE antibodies to cat. The strongest predictor of the maternal IgG antibody response was exposure to greater than 8 μg of Fel d 1/g of dust. Thus approximately 70% of children living in a house with a cat had received IgG antibodies from their mothers. In many cases the infant received IgG and IgG4 antibodies to Fel d 1 from a nonallergic mother. Maternal IgE antibodies were consistently associated with asthma; by contrast, the IgG antibody was not independently related to asthma but was related to rhinitis in the mothers (odds ratio, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.1-6.2) and to eczema in children. At age 3 years, 13 of 230 sera contained IgE antibodies to mite, but only 5 had IgE antibodies to cat. Conclusions: A significant proportion (approximately 15%) of mothers and children exposed to high concentrations of cat (but not mite) allergens have serum IgG antibodies without IgE antibodies. This IgG antibody is freely transferred to the infant and might influence IgG antibody production in the child. The results indicate the importance of understanding the mechanisms of tolerance to cats and raise questions about the independent role of the mother in the inheritance of allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2003;111:123-30.
Full conference title:
2003 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Annual Meeting
- AAAAI 2003 (59th)