Mould-sensitized adults have lower Th2 cytokines and a higher prevalence of asthma than those sensitized to other aeroallergens.
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Evidence suggests that specific allergen sensitizations are associated with different allergic diseases which may reflect different underlying immune profiles. We aimed to examine the cytokine profiles of individuals sensitized to eight common aeroallergens.
We used data from the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study a population-based cohort study of 45-year-olds. Serum cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, TNF-α) were measured in 1157 subjects using the LINCOplex assays. Participants underwent skin prick testing for house dust mite, cat, grasses and moulds. Multivariable linear regression was used to compare serum cytokine levels between sensitized and nonatopic subjects.
The prevalence of allergic sensitization to any aeroallergen was 51% (95% CI 47-54). Being sensitized to any aeroallergen was strongly associated with current asthma (OR = 3.7, 95% CI 2.6-5.3), and being sensitized to any moulds was associated with a very high risk of current asthma (OR = 6.40, 95% CI 4.06-10.1). The geometric mean (GM) levels of Th2 cytokines (IL-4, IL-5 and IL-6) for adults sensitized to Cladosporium were significantly lower than the levels for nonatopic individuals (IL-4 ratio of GMs = 0.25, 95% CI 0.10-0.62, P = 0.003; IL-5 GM = 0.55, 95% CI 0.30-0.99, P = 0.05; and IL-6 GM = 0.50, 95% CI 0.24-1.07, P = 0.07). Individuals sensitized to other aeroallergens all showed elevated Th2 cytokine levels.
Our study is the first large population-based study to demonstrate reduced Th2 cytokines levels in people sensitized to mould. Underlying biological mechanisms driving allergic inflammatory responses in adults sensitized to moulds may differ from those sensitized to other aeroallergens. These findings suggest that it may be necessary to tailor treatments in individuals sensitized to moulds compared with other aeroallergens in order to optimize outcomes.
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