Perinatal Bacterial Exposure Contributes to IL-13 Aeroallergen Response

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2017 Oct;57(4):419-427. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2017-0027OC.


There is a high prevalence of aeroallergen sensitivity in asthmatic populations, and seroreactivity to aeroallergens early in infancy is associated with increased risk of developing asthma later in life. In addition to allergen sensitivity, asthma development has been associated with differential microbial exposure and infection in early life. We have previously shown that cord blood mononuclear cells respond to common aeroallergens (i.e., house dust mite [Der f1] and cockroach [Bla g2]) as assayed by lymphoproliferation and cytokine (IL-13 and IFN-γ) production. We hypothesized that there is a relationship between perinatal microbial exposure and response to specific aeroallergens. To test this hypothesis, we isolated DNA from cord blood serum samples with known lymphoproliferative and cytokine responses to Bla g2 and Der f1. Bacterial 16S ribosomal DNA amplicon libraries were generated and analyzed using high throughput sequencing of cord blood serum samples. In our analysis, we identified major compositional differences, including diversity and abundance of specific taxa, between groups whose IL-13 response to Der f1 and Bla g2 differed. We demonstrate a strong association between the ratio of Acinetobacter to Proteobacteria and IL-13 production and the probability of IL-13 production after allergen exposure. IL-13 concentrations in serum were also significantly correlated with the diversity of bacterial DNA. Together, these results underscore the relationship between immune responses to allergens and bacterial exposure during perinatal development.

Keywords: Acinetobacter; IL-13; allergen; asthma; fetal blood.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acinetobacter / immunology
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Antigens, Dermatophagoides / immunology*
  • Arthropod Proteins / immunology*
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases / immunology*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Asthma / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / epidemiology
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / immunology*
  • DNA, Bacterial / immunology
  • DNA, Ribosomal / immunology
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interleukin-13 / immunology*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / pathology
  • Male
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / immunology


  • Allergens
  • Antigens, Dermatophagoides
  • Arthropod Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • IFNG protein, human
  • Interleukin-13
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Dermatophagoides farinae antigen f 1
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases
  • allergen Bla g 2