Relationship between cytokine expression patterns and clinical outcomes: two population-based birth cohorts.

Jiakai Wu, Mattia C F Prosperi, Angela Simpson, Elysia M Hollams, Peter D Sly, Adnan Custovic, Patrick G Holt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Models that incorporate patterns of multiple cytokine responses to allergens, rather than individual cytokine production, may better predict sensitization and asthma. OBJECTIVE: To characterize the patterns of peripheral blood mononuclear cells' (PBMCs) cytokine responses to house dust mite (HDM) allergens among children from two population-based birth cohorts using machine learning techniques. METHODS: PBMCs collected at 8 years of age from the UK Manchester Asthma and Allergy Study (n = 268) and at 14 years of age from the Australian Raine Study (n = 1374) were cultured with HDM extract (10 μg/ml). Cytokine expression (IL-13, IL-5, IFN-γ, and IL10) was measured in the supernatant. Cytokine patterns were identified using a Gaussian mixture model clustering, and classification stability was assessed by bootstrapping. RESULTS: A six-class model indicated complex latent structure of cytokine expression. Based on the characteristics of each class, we designated them as follows: 'Nonresponders' (n = 905, 55%); 'IL-10 responders' (n = 49, 3%); 'IFN-γ and IL-13 medium responders' (n = 56, 3.4%); 'IL-13 medium responders' (n = 351, 21.4%); 'IL-5 and IL-13 medium responders' (n = 77, 4.7%); and 'IL-13 and IL-5 high responders' (n = 204, 12.4%). 'IL-13 and IL-5 high responders' were at much higher risk of HDM sensitization and asthma compared to all other classes, with 88% of children assigned to this class being sensitized and 28.5% having asthma. CONCLUSION: Using model-based clustering, we identified several distinct patterns of cytokine response to HDM and observed interplay between cytokine expression level, cytokine patterns (especially IL-13 and IL-5), and clinical outcomes. 'IL-13 and IL-5 high responders' class was strongly associated with HDM sensitization. However, among HDM-sensitized children, one-third showed no PBMC response to HDM, and the majority of HDM-sensitized children did not have asthma or wheeze. Our findings suggest that positive HDM 'allergy tests' and asthma are associated with a broad range of immunophenotypes, which may have important implications for the use of cytokine-targeted treatment approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1801-11
JournalClinical and experimental allergy : journal of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • MAAS
  • Raine Study
  • asthma
  • cytokine pattern
  • house dust mite allergens
  • sensitization


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