Associations between maternal obesity, gestational cytokine levels and child obesity in the NEST cohort.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Although maternal systemic inflammation is hypothesized to link maternal pre-pregnancy obesity to offspring metabolic dysfunction, patient empirical data are limited.


In this study, we hypothesized that pre-pregnancy obesity alters systemic chemo/cytokines concentrations in pregnancy, and this alteration contributes to obesity in children.


In a multi-ethnic cohort of 361 mother-child pairs, we measured prenatal concentrations of plasma TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8, IL-1β, IL-4, IFN-γ, IL-12 p70 subunit, and IL-17A using a multiplex ELISA and examined associations of pre-pregnancy obesity on maternal chemo/cytokine levels, and associations of these cytokine levels with offspring body mass index z score (BMI-z) at age 2-6 years using linear regression.


After adjusting for maternal smoking, ethnicity, age, and education, pre-pregnancy obesity was associated with increased concentrations of TNF-α (P = .026) and IFN-γ (P = .06). While we found no evidence for associations between TNF-α concentrations and offspring BMI-z, increased IFN-γ concentrations were associated with decreased BMI-z (P = .0002), primarily in Whites (P = .0011). In addition, increased maternal IL-17A concentrations were associated with increased BMI-z in offspring (P = .0005) with stronger associations in African Americans (P = .0042) than Whites (P = .24).


Data from this study are consistent with maternal obesity-related inflammation during pregnancy, increasing the risk of childhood obesity in an ethnic-specific manner.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Maguire, RL; House, JS; Lloyd, DT; Skinner, HG; Allen, TK; Raffi, AM; Skaar, DA; Park, SS; McCullough, LE; Kollins, SH; Bilbo, SD; Collier, DN; Murphy, SK; Fuemmeler, BF; Gowdy, KM; Hoyo, C

Published Date

  • July 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 16 / 7

Start / End Page

  • e12763 -

PubMed ID

  • 33381912

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8178180

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2047-6310

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2047-6302

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/ijpo.12763


  • eng