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Infect Immun. 2000 Jul;68(7):3873-7.

Antigen-specific responses to diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis vaccine in human infants are initially Th2 polarized.

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TVW Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.


Immune responses to exogenous antigens in infant experimental animals display various degrees of Th2 polarization. Preliminary evidence from small human studies suggest a similar age-dependent response pattern to vaccines, but detailed investigations on vaccine immunity during infancy have not yet been undertaken. We report below the results of a comprehensive prospective study on responses to the tetanus component of the diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine in a cohort of 55 healthy children, employing peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) collected at the 2-, 4-, and 6-month vaccinations and at 12 months. Antigen-specific production of interleukin-4 (IL-4), IL-5, IL-6, IL-9, IL-10, IL-13, and gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) was determined at each sample point, in parallel with polyclonal (phytohemagglutinin PHA-induced) cytokine responses. Our results indicate early and persistent Th2 responses to the vaccine, in contrast to a more delayed and transient pattern of IFN-gamma production. This initial disparity between the Th1 and Th2 components of the vaccine response was mirrored by patterns of polyclonally induced cytokine production, suggesting that the delayed maturation of the Th1 component of the vaccine response during infancy is secondary to developmental processes occurring within the overall Th cell system.

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