Regulatory T cells in prenatal blood samples: variability with pet exposure and sensitization

Ganesa Wegienka, Suzanne Havstad, Edward M. Zoratti, Kimberley J. Woodcroft, Kevin R. Bobbitt, Dennis Randall Ownby, Christine Cole Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Fetal exposures have come under investigation as risk factors of early life allergic disease. In this study we aimed to examine the relationships between dog or cat exposure and naturally occurring regulatory T cells (Treg cells), thought to play an important role in immune tolerance, in pregnant women. A cross-sectional analysis was conducted among 204 pregnant women who were queried regarding dog and cat exposure. Treg cells (CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ lymphocytes) and allergen-specific IgE were measured in venous blood samples. Atopy was defined as allergen-specific IgE ≥0.35 kU/l reactive with common allergens including dust mite, dog, cat, Timothy grass, ragweed, Alternaria alternata, egg white or cockroach. Nonparametric Wilcoxon rank sum tests and linear regression models of log transformed Treg cell levels were used in analyses. Among women sensitized to dog, those who had a dog or cat in the home had lower Treg cell levels compared with those who had no dog or cat. However, among women not sensitized to dog, those with a dog or cat in the home had higher Treg cell levels compared with those who did not. Among women sensitized to cat, those who had a dog or cat in the home had lower Treg cell levels compared with those who had no dog or cat. Gestational age at blood draw did not affect the associations. We conclude that Treg cell levels during pregnancy vary in association with both dog and cat exposure and atopic status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-81
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Reproductive Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009



  • Immunology
  • Pregnancy
  • Regulatory T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Reproductive Medicine

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