Chronic caregiver stress and IgE expression, allergen-induced proliferation, and cytokine profiles in a birth cohort predisposed to atopy

Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description


Psychologic stress modifies immune function and cytokine production.


We examined relationships between caregiver stress on the following markers of early childhood immune response: (1) IgE expression (n=215); (2) mitogen-induced and allergen-specific (Dermatophagoides farinae [Der f 1] and cockroach [Bla g 2]) proliferative response (n=114); and (3) subsequent cytokine expression (INF-gamma, TNF-alpha, IL-10, and IL-13) in a prospective birth cohort predisposed to atopy.


Caregiver stress was measured at 2-month intervals for the first 2 years of life and yearly thereafter by using the Perceived Stress Scale. A subsequent blood sample obtained from the children (median age, 2.1 years; range, 18-32 months) was analyzed for total serum IgE level and allergen-induced proliferation quantified as the stimulation index (SI; mean thymidine incorporation of the stimulated sample divided by that of the unstimulated sample). The relationship between stress and the proliferative response (SI >3 vs SI < or =3), and total IgE level (< or =100 IU/mL vs >100 IU/mL) was examined by using logistic regression. The relationship between cytokine levels and stress was analyzed by using linear regression.


In adjusted analyses higher caregiver stress in the first 6 months after birth was associated with a Der f 1 SI of greater than 3 (odds ratio [OR], 1.5; 95% CI, 1.0-2.3) and nominally associated with a Bla g 2 SI of greater than 3 (OR, 1.13; 95% CI, 0.7-1.8). Higher stress between ages 6 and 18 months was associated with a high total IgE level (OR, 2.03; 95% CI, 1.1-3.6). Higher stress was significantly associated with increased production of TNF-alpha, with a suggested trend between higher stress and reduced INF-gamma production.


Increased stress in early childhood was associated with an atopic immune profile in these children predisposed to atopy-asthma.


Published In

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 113, 6, 1051-1057.