House dust (1–3)-β-D-glucan and wheezing in infants

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Abstract

Background

(1–3)-β-D-glucan is a fungal cell wall component, suspected to cause respiratory symptoms in adults. However, very little is known on the possible health effects of (1–3)-β-D-glucan during infancy. We examined the association between (1–3)-β-D-glucan exposure and the prevalence of allergen sensitization and wheezing during the first year of life in a birth cohort of 574 infants born to atopic parents. Endotoxin exposure was included as a possible confounder.

Methods

(1–3)-β-D-glucan and endotoxin exposures were measured in settled dust collected from infants' primary activity rooms. The primary outcomes at approximately age one included parental reports of recurrent wheezing and allergen sensitization evaluated by skin prick testing to a panel of 15 aeroallergens as well as milk and egg white.

Results

Exposure to high (1–3)-β-D-glucan concentration (within fourth quartile) was associated with reduced likelihood of both recurrent wheezing [adjusted OR (aOR) = 0.39, 95% CI = 0.16–0.93] and recurrent wheezing combined with allergen sensitization (aOR = 0.13, 95% CI = 0.03–0.61). Similar trends were found between (1–3)-β-D-glucan concentrations and allergen sensitization (aOR = 0.57, 95% CI = 0.30–1.10). In contrast, recurrent wheezing with or without allergen sensitization was positively associated with low (1–3)-β-D-glucan exposure within the first quartile (aOR = 3.04, 95% CI = 1.25–7.38; aOR = 4.89, 95% CI = 1.02–23.57). There were no significant associations between endotoxin exposure and the studied health outcomes.

Conclusions

This is the first study to report that indoor exposure to high levels of (1–3)-β-D-glucan (concentration >60 μg/g) is associated with decreased risk for recurrent wheezing among infants born to atopic parents. This effect was more pronounced in the subgroup of allergen-sensitized infants.

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