Scientists find evidence for congenital food allergies in umbilical cord blood

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Children prone to developing food allergies are born with some immune cells ready to cause inflammation, according to a study published January 13 in Science Translational Medicine. Scientists who studied nearly 700 newborns for one year observed that monocytes found in umbilical cord blood of infants who had food allergies a year later were more active and proinflammatory than those in newborns without such allergies. A team of researchers from Australia and China has shown that a consequence of this increased monocyte activity could be a deficit of anti-inflammatory T regulatory cells (Tregs).

“It’s fairly well known that there are T-cell changes associated with food allergy,” said M. Cecilia Berin, a pediatric allergy specialist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City who was not involved in the research. “[This study] really identifies the contribution of the innate immune system upstream of T-cell dysregulation.”

Peter Vuillermin, a pediatric specialist at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, and his colleagues examined the composition of immune cells in the cord blood of newborns enrolled in the Barwon Infant Study (BIS), a large-scale project aimed at identifying prenatal and early-life causes of noncommunicable diseases. The team found that cord blood from infants who went on to develop confirmed food allergies had lower frequencies of Tregs and larger ratios of CD14+ monocytes to CD4+ T cells — two populations of immune cells that are inversely related in cord blood.

Read full, original post: Cord Blood Cells Foretell Food Allergy

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