Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1016/j.jaci.2013.06.036
Title (Primary) Maternal and cord blood miR-223 expression associates with prenatal tobacco smoke exposure and low regulatory T-cell numbers
Author Herberth, G. ORCID logo ; Bauer, M.; Gasch, M.; Hinz, D.; Röder, S. ORCID logo ; Olek, S.; Kohajda, T.; Rolle-Kampczyk, U.; von Bergen, M.; Sack, U.; Borte, M.; Lehmann, I.
Source Titel Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Year 2014
Volume 133
Issue 2
Page From 543
Page To 550.e4
Language englisch
Keywords miR-223; miR-155; regulatory T cells; cord blood; pregnancy; tobacco smoke
UFZ wide themes RU3;


There is evidence that microRNAs (miRNAs) are sensitive to environmental stressors, including tobacco smoke. On the other hand, miRNAs are involved in immune regulation, such as regulatory T (Treg) cell differentiation. The aim of the present study was to investigate the association between prenatal tobacco smoke exposure, miRNAs, and Treg cell numbers.


Within a prospective mother-child study (Lifestyle and Environmental Factors and Their Influence on Newborns Allergy Risk), we analyzed the expression of miR-155 and miR-223 together with Treg cell numbers in maternal blood during pregnancy, as well as in cord blood (n = 441). Tobacco smoke exposure was assessed based on questionnaire answers and maternal urine cotinine levels. Additionally, the concentration of smoking-related volatile organic compounds was measured in dwellings of study participants.


Both maternal and cord blood miR-223 expressions were positively correlated with maternal urine cotinine levels. An association was also found between maternal miR-223 expression and indoor concentrations of benzene and toluene. High miR-223 expression was associated with lower Treg cell numbers in maternal and cord blood. Furthermore, children with lower Treg cell numbers at birth had a higher risk of atopic dermatitis during the first 3 years of life. The concentration of the toluene metabolite S-benzylmercapturic acid in maternal urine was associated with decreased cord blood, but not maternal blood, miR-155 expression. A relationship between miR-155 expression and Treg cell numbers was not found.


For the first time, we show that maternal tobacco smoke exposure during pregnancy correlates with the level of miRNA-223 expression in blood, with an effect on children's cord blood Treg cell numbers and subsequent allergy risk.

Persistent UFZ Identifier
Herberth, G., Bauer, M., Gasch, M., Hinz, D., Röder, S., Olek, S., Kohajda, T., Rolle-Kampczyk, U., von Bergen, M., Sack, U., Borte, M., Lehmann, I. (2014):
Maternal and cord blood miR-223 expression associates with prenatal tobacco smoke exposure and low regulatory T-cell numbers
J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 133 (2), 543 - 550.e4 10.1016/j.jaci.2013.06.036