Maternal cytokine status may prime the metabolic profile and increase risk of obesity in children

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The maternal inflammation status during pregnancy has been associated with metabolic imprinting and obesity development in the child. However, the influence of the maternal Th2 cytokines, interleukin-4 (IL4), IL5 and IL13, has not been studied so far.

METHODS:

We investigated the relationship between maternal innate (IL6, IL8, IL10 and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFa)) and adaptive (interferon-γ, IL4, IL5 and IL13) blood cytokine levels at 34 weeks of gestation and children's overweight development until the age of 3 years in 407 children of the German longitudinal LINA (Lifestyle and Environmental Factors and their Influence on Newborns Allergy risk) cohort. Children's body weight and height were measured during the annual clinical visits or acquired from questionnaires. Body mass index (BMI) Z-scores were calculated according to the WHO reference data to adjust for child's age and gender. Cytokine secretion was stimulated with phytohemagglutinin or lipopolysaccharide and measured by cytometric bead assay. Furthermore, we assessed metabolic parameter in blood of 318 children at age 1 using the AbsoluteIDQ p180 Kit (Biocrates LIFE Science AG).

RESULTS:

Applying logistic regression models, we found that an increase of maternal IL4 and IL13 was associated with a decreased risk for overweight development in 1- and 2-year-old children. This effect was consistent up to the age of 3 years for IL13 and mainly concerns children without maternal history of atopy. Children's acylcarnitine concentrations at 1 year were positively correlated with maternal IL13 levels and inversely associated with the BMI Z-score at age 1.

CONCLUSIONS:

We were able to show for the first time that the maternal Th2 status may be linked inversely to early childhood overweight development accompanied by an altered metabolic profile of the fetus. However, our data do not support a direct mediating role of acylcarnitines on maternal IL13-induced weight development.

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