Atopy is characterized by eosinophilic inflammation associated with recruitment of eosinophil/basophil (Eo/B) progenitors. We have previously shown that Eo/B progenitor phenotypes are altered in cord blood (CB) in infants at high risk of atopy/asthma, and respond to maternal dietary intervention during pregnancy. As respiratory tract viral infections have been shown to induce wheeze in infancy, we investigated the relationship between CB progenitor function and phenotype and acute respiratory illness (ARI), specifically wheeze and fever. CB from 39 high-risk infants was studied by flow cytometry for CD34+ progenitor phenotype and by ex vivo Eo/B-colony forming unit (CFU) responses to cytokine stimulation in relation to ARI in the first year of life. A consistent relationship was observed between increased numbers of granulocyte/macrophage (GM)-colony-stimulating factor (CSF)- and IL-3-responsive Eo/B-CFU in CB and the frequency/characteristics of ARI during infancy. Comparable associations were found between ARI and CB IL-3R+ and GM-CSFR+CD34+ cell numbers. Conversely, a reciprocal decrease in the proportion of CB IL-5R+ cells was found in relation to the clinical outcomes. The elevation of IL-3/GM-CSF-responsive Eo/B progenitors in high-risk infants in relation to ARI outcomes suggests a mechanism for the increased severity of inflammatory responses in these subjects following viral infection.
- Cytokine receptors
- Infant wheeze