Metabolomic profiles during early childhood and risk of food allergies and asthma in multiethnic children from a prospective birth cohort

Xiumei Hong, Kari Nadeau, Guoying Wang, Ben Larman, Kellie N. Smith, Colleen Pearson, Hongkai Ji, Pamela Frischmeyer-Guerrerio, Liming Liang, Frank B. Hu, Xiaobin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There are increasing numbers of metabolomic studies in food allergy (FA) and asthma, which, however, are predominantly limited by cross-sectional designs, small sample size, and being conducted in European populations. Objective: We sought to identify metabolites unique to and shared by children with FA and/or asthma in a racially diverse prospective birth cohort, the Boston Birth Cohort. Methods: Mass spectrometry–based untargeted metabolomic profiling was performed using venous plasma collected in early childhood (n = 811). FA was diagnosed according to clinical symptoms consistent with an acute hypersensitivity reaction at food ingestion and food specific-IgE > 0.35 kU/L. Asthma was defined on the basis of physician diagnosis. Generalized estimating equations were applied to analyze metabolomic associations with FA and asthma, adjusting for potential confounders. Results: During a mean ± standard deviation follow-up of 11.8 ± 5.2 years from birth, 78 children developed FA and 171 developed asthma. Androgenic and pregnenolone steroids were significantly associated with a lower risk of FA, especially for egg allergy. N,N,N-trimethyl-5-aminovalerate (odds ratio [OR] = 0.65, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.48-0.87), and 1-oleoyl-2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoinositol (OR = 0.77; 95% CI = 0.66-0.90) were inversely associated with FA risk. Orotidine (OR = 4.73; 95% CI = 2.2-10.2) and 4-cholesten-3-one (OR = 0.52; 95% CI = 0.35-0.77) were the top 2 metabolites associated with risk of asthma, although they had no association with FA. In comparison, children with both FA and asthma exhibited an altered metabolomic profile that aligned with that of FA, including altered levels of lipids and steroids. Conclusion: In this US multiethnic prospective birth cohort, unique and shared alterations in plasma metabolites during early childhood were associated with risk of developing FA and/or asthma. These findings await further validation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Food allergy
  • asthma
  • metabolomic profiles
  • multiethnic children
  • prospective birth cohort
  • steroid metabolites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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