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4.  Association of the Frequency of Respiratory Illness in Early Childhood with a Change in the Distribution of Blood Lymphocyte Subpopulations 
Little is known about the distribution of lymphocyte phenotypes in young children and the association specific phenotypes may have with respiratory illnesses. The objective of this study was to describe lymphocyte distributions in children at approximately 2 years of age and to test for associations with the frequency of respiratory illness during the first 2 years of life. We hypothesized that an increased frequency of illness would be associated with those phenotypes that reflect previous antigen exposure and/or immune activation. Seventy-three children were followed during their first 2 years of life with daily symptom diaries and twice-monthly telephone calls to ascertain the incidence of respiratory illness. After the children reached 2 years of age, the phenotypes of circulating blood lymphocytes were measured by flow cytometry. Associations between illness and phenotypes were adjusted for education level of parents; hours per week in day care; hours per week exposed to environmental tobacco smoke, mould, or water damage in bedroom; and parental history of allergy and asthma. The resulting median lymphocyte count was 4.0 × 109 per litre (standard deviation, 1.3) with a CD4/CD8 count of 2.28, consistent with published values. Illness rates were positively associated with the percentage of CD8+ CD38+ T cells (unadjusted p = .03, adjusted p = .014), CD8+ CD45RO+ T cells (unadjusted p = .06, adjusted p = .036), and CD4+ CD45RO+ T cells (unadjusted p = .01, adjusted p = .005). Our conclusions is that there is an association between the distribution of lymphocyte phenotypes and the incidence of respiratory illness early in life. Future research is recommended to determine the directionality of this association.
doi:10.1186/1710-1492-1-4-135
PMCID: PMC2877071  PMID: 20529218

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