Author(s): Yenny Djuardi 1,2,*, Heri Wibowo 1, Taniawati Supali 1, Iwan Ariawan 3, Robbert G. M. Bredius 4, Maria Yazdanbakhsh 2, Laura C. Rodrigues 5, Erliyani Sartono 2
In utero environment has evolved to ensure that the semi-allogeneic fetus can grow optimally, with placenta as an immunological barrier between maternal and fetal circulation. It is known that maternal nutrient imbalance or exposure to allergens or pathogens may modulate the immune responses of the fetus. The capacity of cord blood mononuclear cells (CBMC) of neonates born to mothers infected with filarial parasite -, intestinal helminth  or malaria ,  to mount parasite-specific cellular and humoral immune responses is taken as evidence for sensitization of fetal immune cells during the gestational period. The higher CBMC proliferative responses to birch pollen from babies born to mothers exposed to birch pollen during months 5-7 of pregnancy ,  is an indication of early priming to allergens. Furthermore, maternal smoking during pregnancy results in higher cotinine levels in cord blood; this condition is associated with attenuated neonatal innate immune responses and may have an impact on the maturation of antigen presenting cells . In utero exposure to maternal diet such as fish oil supplementation during pregnancy could induce an immunoregulatory effect on infant cytokine production with  or without the presence of stimulus such as allergens . Some cross-sectional studies on atopic disorders have shown a correlation between T helper (Th) 1 or Th2 cytokines produced by mothers and their corresponding cord blood cells  or produced by their 2 year-old children , but the analyses did not consider the role played by environmental factors. It is known that environmental factors can affect fetal life and may have long-term implications for susceptibility or resistance to infections , development of metabolic syndromes and cardiovascular diseases -, or asthma and allergy .
In the present study we have investigated in Indonesia where environmental exposures are highly varied, the relationship between maternal and infant's cellular immune responses at early life before the start of vaccinations. This would circumvent the problems when studying cord blood responses, namely the effect that physiological stress caused during birth might exert and the possible cross contamination with maternal blood. The specific aims of this study were twofold: a) to assess how close the relationship is between cytokine responses in pregnant women and their children and b) to evaluate the associations between environmental factors and maternal characteristics that in turn affect cytokine responses of their children. To this end, a conceptual framework was proposed to define the relationship between environmental factors and maternal characteristics and the infant's immune system. This framework was used to then guide the inclusion of the influential variables in the multiple logistic regression model.
This study was conducted according to the principles expressed in the Declaration of Helsinki. The study was approved by Ethics Committee of Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia. All mothers were provided written informed consent for the collection of samples from...