Clin Proteomics 18 (1) 11 [2021-03-15; online 2021-03-15]
Protein profiles that can predict allergy development in children are lacking and the ideal sampling age is unknown. By applying an exploratory proteomics approach in the prospective FARMFLORA birth cohort, we sought to identify previously unknown circulating proteins in early life that associate to protection or risk for development of allergy up to 8 years of age. We analyzed plasma prepared from umbilical cord blood (n = 38) and blood collected at 1 month (n = 42), 4 months (n = 39), 18 months (n = 42), 36 months (n = 42) and 8 years (n = 44) of age. We profiled 230 proteins with a multiplexed assay and evaluated the global structure of the data with principal component analysis (PCA). Protein profiles informative to allergic disease at 18 months, 36 months and/or 8 years were evaluated using Lasso logistic regression and random forest. Two clusters emerged in the PCA analysis that separated samples obtained at birth and at 1 month of age from samples obtained later. Differences between the clusters were mostly driven by abundant plasma proteins. For the prediction of allergy, both Lasso logistic regression and random forest were most informative with samples collected at 1 month of age. A Lasso model with 27 proteins together with farm environment differentiated children who remained healthy from those developing allergy. This protein panel was primarily composed of antigen-presenting MHC class I molecules, interleukins and chemokines. Sampled at one month of age, circulating proteins that reflect processes of the immune system may predict the development of allergic disease later in childhood.