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J Autoimmun. 2003 Nov;21(3):277-81.

Impaired responses to toll-like receptor 4 and toll-like receptor 3 ligands in human cord blood.

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Laboratory of Experimental Immunology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 808, Route de Lennik, B-1070, Brussels, Belgium.


Toll-like receptor (TLR)-4 signaling pathway plays an essential role in host defense against gram-negative bacteria while TLR-3-mediated signaling is critically involved in anti-viral immunity. To gain insight into the defects responsible for impaired Th1 responses in human newborns, we investigated the responses of human cord blood cells to lipopolysaccharide, LPS, and to polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid, Poly (I:C), ligands of TLR-4 and TLR-3, respectively. Measurement of cytokine levels revealed a profound defect in IL-12 (p70) synthesis and an increased release of IL-10 in cord blood exposed to LPS or Poly (I:C), as compared to adult blood. Moreover, Poly (I:C)-induced IFN-alpha production was found to be significantly impaired in cord blood. Phenotypic maturation of myeloid DC in response to LPS or Poly (I:C) was next compared in cord and adult blood. We observed that neonatal myeloid DC displayed decreased upregulation of CD40, CD80 whereas CD86 and HLA-DR upregulation did not differ significantly between adults and neonates. Taken together, these findings might be relevant to the increased vulnerability of human newborns to intracellular pathogens and to their inability to develop efficient Th1-type responses.

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