The influence of maternal exposure to volatile organic compounds on the cytokine secretion profile of neonatal T cells

Environ Toxicol. 2002;17(3):203-10. doi: 10.1002/tox.10055.


Indoor VOC (volatile organic compound) exposure has been shown to be correlated with airway symptoms and allergic manifestations in children. An investigation was conducted within an ongoing birth cohort study (LISA: Lifestyle-Immune System-Allergy) of the association between maternal exposure to VOCs and immune status at birth, in particular the cytokine secretion profile of cord-blood T cells. In a randomly selected group of 85 neonates, cytokine-producing cord-blood T cells were analyzed using intracellular cytokine detection. VOC exposure was measured in children's dwellings by passive sampling, while parents were asked to complete questionnaires about possible sources of VOC exposure. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) were calculated by logistic regression based on categorized quartiles. A positive association was found between elevated percentages of interleukin-4-producing (IL-4) type 2 T cells and exposure to naphthalene (OR = 2.9) and methylcyclopentane (OR = 3.3). Exposure to tetrachloroethylene was associated with reduced percentages of interferon-gamma-producing (IFN-gamma) type 1 T cells (OR = 2.9). In addition, smoking during pregnancy was correlated with a higher indoor air concentration of naphthalene (OR = 3.8), new carpets in infants' bedrooms with elevated methylcyclopentane concentrations (OR = 4.1), and home renovation with a higher trichloroethylene burden (OR = 4.9). Our data suggest that maternal exposure to VOC may have an influence on the immune status of the newborn child.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Carcinogens / adverse effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Naphthalenes / adverse effects*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Regression Analysis
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Tetrachloroethylene / adverse effects*
  • Volatilization


  • Carcinogens
  • Cytokines
  • Naphthalenes
  • naphthalene
  • Tetrachloroethylene