Biomarkers For The Assessment of Exposure and Toxicity in Children

EPA Grant Number: R830825
Title: Biomarkers For The Assessment of Exposure and Toxicity in Children
Investigators: Karmaus, Wilfried , Riebow, John , Gangur, Venugopal
Current Investigators: Karmaus, Wilfried , Gregg, Anthony , Riebow, John , Gangur, Venugopal
Institution: Michigan State University
EPA Project Officer: Klieforth, Barbara I
Project Period: May 1, 2003 through April 30, 2006 (Extended to December 31, 2007)
Project Amount: $749,939
RFA: Biomarkers for the Assessment of Exposure and Toxicity in Children (2002) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health Effects , Children's Health , Human Health , Health


New research indicates that the susceptibility for asthma develops prenatally by priming either an atopic or non-atopic response to antigens. Research has shown that halogenated organic compounds (HOC) may disrupt the endocrine control of the feto-maternal immune system, supporting an atopic response. This project proposes to assess whether exposure to HOC in utero or via breastfeeding poses a risk for the immune system of the child, taking the protective effect of breastfeeding into consideration.


Specific objectives are to: 1) Determine the concentration in placental tissue of different markers for exposure to HOC such as polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), hydroxylated polychlorinated biphenyls (HO-PCB), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), and dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethene (DDE). 2) Determine markers of HOC exposure in breast milk and estimate the cumulative amount of lactational HOC exposure of the infant. This will help us to assess whether in utero or cumulative breast milk exposure are higher. Further, we will ascertain the relative significance of the time windows of exposure (in utero vs. breastfeeding) for the markers presented in objective (3) and (4). 3) Determine markers of susceptibility for atopic disorders in cord blood such as immunoglobulin E (IgE), and the cytokines interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interferon-g (IFN-g). 4) Determine markers of effect, signaling that the child is developing an atopic manifestation (asthma-like symptoms, atopic eczema).


The research will be conducted in a follow-up study of 230 children from delivery to 12 months of age. We will determine biomarkers of exposure to HOC in utero (placenta) and infancy (breast milk). HOC comprise pollutants such as PCB, DDE, as well as PBDE and HO-PCB. As biomarkers of susceptibility, we will measure IgE, cytokines IL-4 and IFN-g in cord blood. We will also ascertain biomarkers of effect: clinical manifestations of atopy such as asthma-like symptoms and atopic eczema in infancy. Multiple linear and logistic regression, as well as path analysis, will be used for statistical analyses.

Expected Results:

We expect to recognize whether markers of exposures to HOC, in utero or breast milk, are associated with asthma and atopic manifestations in infancy. The markers of susceptibility and effect will permit us to determine whether asthma and atopy are pre-programmed in utero.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 9 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 7 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

infants, atopic, biomarkers, cord blood mononuclear cells, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, enzyme-linked immunoassays, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, PHYSICAL ASPECTS, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, HUMAN HEALTH, Health Risk Assessment, Chemicals, Endocrine Disruptors - Environmental Exposure & Risk, endocrine disruptors, Risk Assessments, Allergens/Asthma, Biochemistry, Health Effects, Physical Processes, Children's Health, Environmental Policy, Biology, Endocrine Disruptors - Human Health, Risk Assessment, asthma, asthma triggers, biomarkers, childhood development, prenatal exposure, airway disease, endocrine disrupting chemicals, exposure, exposure studies, asthma indices, air pollution, children, Human Health Risk Assessment, developmental biology, human exposure, human growth and development, fetal development, children's vulnerablity, assessment of exposure, childhood respiratory disease, asthmatic children, halogenated organic compounds, harmful environmental agents, embryonic development, children's environmental health, allergic response, human health risk, biomarker

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2003 Progress Report
  • 2004
  • 2005
  • 2006 Progress Report
  • Final