BMC Med 2019 Apr 9;17(1):75. Epub 2019 Apr 9.
Department of Psychiatry, Center for Research in Psychiatric Epidemiology and Psychopathology, Lausanne University Hospital, Prilly, Switzerland.
Background: Comorbidity patterns of childhood infections, atopic diseases, and adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are related to immune system programming conditions. The aim of this study was to make a step beyond the hygiene hypothesis and to comprehensively classify these patterns with latent class analysis (LCA). A second aim was to characterize the classes by associations with immunological, clinical, and sociodemographic variables.
Methods: LCA was applied to data from the CoLaus|PsyCoLaus study (N = 4874, age range 35-82 years) separately for men and women. It was based on survey information on chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella, herpes simplex, pertussis, scarlet fever, hay fever, asthma, eczema, urticaria, drug allergy, interparental violence, parental maltreatment, and trauma in early childhood. Subsequently, we examined how immune-mediated classes were reflected in leukocyte counts, inflammatory markers (IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, hsCRP), chronic inflammatory diseases, and mental disorders, and how they differed across social classes and birth cohorts.
Results: LCA results with five classes were selected for further analysis. Latent classes were similar in both sexes and were labeled according to their associations as neutral, resilient, atopic, mixed (comprising infectious and atopic diseases), and ACE class. They came across with specific differences in biomarker levels. Mental disorders typically displayed increased lifetime prevalence rates in the atopic, the mixed, and the ACE classes, and decreased rates in the resilient class. The same patterns were apparent in chronic inflammatory diseases, except that the ACE class was relevant specifically in women but not in men.
Conclusions: This is the first study to systematically determine immune-mediated classes that evolve early in life. They display characteristic associations with biomarker levels and somatic and psychiatric diseases occurring later in life. Moreover, they show different distributions across social classes and allow to better understand the mechanisms beyond the changes in the prevalence of chronic somatic and psychiatric diseases.