The risk of preschool asthma at 2-4 years is not associated with leukocyte telomere length at birth or at 1 year of age

Asia Pac Allergy. 2019 Oct 14;9(4):e33. doi: 10.5415/apallergy.2019.9.e33. eCollection 2019 Oct.


Background: Exposure to prenatal stress is associated with offspring allergic-disease development, and oxidative stress may mediate this relationship.

Objective: We aimed to evaluate whether leukocyte telomere length (LTL) shortening, a marker for exposure to oxidative stress, in early life is associated with increased risk of asthma development during the preschool period.

Methods: We assessed the follow-up clinical data of a subgroup from a birth cohort whose LTLs had been measured from cord-blood and 1-year peripheral-blood samples. We examined whether the LTLs would be associated with asthma development at the age of 2-4 years.

Results: The data of 84 subjects were analyzed. LTLs were measured from the cord-blood and 1-year peripheral blood of 75 and 79 subjects, respectively. Among them, 14 subjects (16.7%) developed bronchial asthma between 2-4 years old. Prenatally stressed subjects had marginally increased odds of developing asthma (p = 0.097). There was no significant difference in the odds of preschool-asthma development between the groups with shorter and longer cord-blood LTLs (odds ratio [OR], 0.651; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.184-2.306) or in the odds between the groups with shorter and longer 1-year peripheral-blood LTLs (OR, 0.448; 95% CI, 0.135-1.483). Finally, subjects with both higher prenatal stress and shorter LTLs did not have significantly higher odds of preschool-asthma development (for cord-blood: OR, 1.242; 95% CI, 0.353-4.368; for 1-year peripheral-blood: OR, 1.451; 95% CI, 0.428-4.919).

Conclusion: There was no significant association between early life LTLs and higher risk of bronchial-asthma development during the preschool years.

Keywords: Allergy; Asthma; Bronchial diseases; Child, Preschool; Oxidative stress, Telomere shortening.