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J Endotoxin Res. 2005;11(2):113-6.

Innate immunity of the human newborn: distinct cytokine responses to LPS and other Toll-like receptor agonists.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA. ofer.levy@childrens.harvard.edu


Human newborns are at increased risk of microbial invasion and display diminished responses to many vaccines indicating a functional immaturity of the immune system at birth. Such altered immune reactivity may reflect the demands of in utero existence, including the need to avoid potentially harmful inflammatory immune reactions. Despite normal basal expression of Toll-like receptors and membrane CD14, innate immune responses of neonatal mononuclear cells to lipopolysaccharide are characterized by markedly reduced release of the pro-inflammatory Th1-polarizing cytokines TNF-alpha and interferon-gamma with relative preservation of anti-inflammatory Th2-polarizing cytokines. Differences between newborns and adults with respect to TLR-induced TNF-alpha release extend to a range of TLR agonists, including bacterial lipopeptides, and are due to differences in soluble factors present in blood plasma. Soluble factors in neonatal blood plasma suppress TLR-induced TNF-alpha release from monocytes and efforts to identify and characterize these inhibitors are on-going. Such altered immunity to TLR agonists is likely to alter both innate and adaptive immune responses in newborns profoundly. Definition of the mechanisms underlying distinct neonatal immunity promises to identify novel ways to prevent and treat infection in this relatively high-risk population.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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