Cord blood cytokines are modulated by maternal farming activities and consumption of farm dairy products during pregnancy: the PASTURE Study

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Jan;125(1):108-15.e1-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2009.09.019. Epub 2009 Dec 6.


Background: Traditional farming represents a unique model situation to investigate the relationship of early-life farm-related exposure and allergy protection.

Objectives: To investigate associations between maternal farm exposures and cytokine production in cord blood (CB) mononuclear cells in a prospective multinational birth cohort of 299 farm and 326 nonfarm children and their families.

Methods: Supernatants from phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate/ionomycin-stimulated CB mononuclear cells were assessed for the production of IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha, IL-5, IL-10, and IL-12.

Results: Significantly higher levels of IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha in farm compared with nonfarm children were found, whereas IL-5, IL-10, and IL-12 levels did not differ between study groups. Maternal contact with different farm animal species and barns and consumption of farm-produced butter during pregnancy enhanced the production of proinflammatory CB cytokines, whereas maternal consumption of farm-produced yogurt resulted in significant lower levels of IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha in umbilical blood.

Conclusion: Maternal exposure to farming activities and farm dairy products during pregnancy modulated cytokine production patterns of offspring at birth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agriculture*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / cytology
  • Fetal Blood / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Pregnancy / immunology*
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Yogurt*
  • Young Adult


  • Cytokines