Standard of hygiene and immune adaptation in newborn infants

Henna Kallionpää, Essi Laajala, Viveka Öling, Taina Härkönen, Vallo Tillmann, Natalya V. Dorshakova, Jorma Ilonen, Harri Lähdesmäki, Mikael Knip, Riitta Lahesmaa

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)
    170 Downloads (Pure)


    The prevalence of immune-mediated diseases, such as allergies and type 1 diabetes, is on the rise in the developed world. In order to explore differences in the gene expression patterns induced in utero in infants born in contrasting standards of living and hygiene, we collected umbilical cord blood RNA samples from infants born in Finland (modern society), Estonia (rapidly developing society) and the Republic of Karelia, Russia (poor economic conditions). The whole blood transcriptome of Finnish and Estonian neonates differed from their Karelian counterparts, suggesting exposure to toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands and a more matured immune response in infants born in Karelia. These results further support the concept of a conspicuous plasticity in the developing immune system: the environmental factors that play a role in the susceptibility/protection towards immune-mediated diseases begin to shape the neonatal immunity already in utero and direct the maturation in accordance with the surrounding microbial milieu.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)136-147
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Hygiene hypothesis
    • Newborn infant
    • Cord blood
    • Gene expression
    • Innate immunity
    • Immune adaptation

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