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Curr Opin Pediatr. 2009 Dec;21(6):762-9. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e3283325e3a.

Neonatal innate immunity in allergy development.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



The neonate is born with a distinct immune system that is biased against the production of T-helper cell 1 (Th1) cytokines. Birth imposes a great challenge on the neonatal immune system, which is confronted with an outside world rich in foreign antigens. Exposure to these antigens shapes the developing neonatal immune system. Inducing Th-1 or Th-2 polarized responses that may extend beyond the neonatal age and counteract or promote allergic sensitization. This review describes how engagement of the innate immune system might contribute to the development of allergy in children.


The exact role of innate immune stimulation in the development of allergies is a controversial area. Epidemiological literature suggests that microbial exposure in early childhood protects against the development of allergies, whereas a large amount of experimental data demonstrates that innate immune stimulation enhances Th2 responses upon primary and secondary antigen exposure.


Dose, site and timing of allergen exposure are likely to modulate the innate immune response, polarizing the maturing neonatal immune system towards Th1 or Th2-type responses, thereby protecting from or predisposing to asthma and allergies. Modulation of neonatal innate immune responses may be a novel approach to prevent asthma and allergies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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