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Blood. 2006 Aug 15;108(4):1284-90. Epub 2006 Apr 25.

Unique efficacy of Toll-like receptor 8 agonists in activating human neonatal antigen-presenting cells.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Newborns are prone to microbial infection and have poor memory responses to multiple antigens. We have previously shown that human neonatal blood monocytes exhibit impaired TNF-alpha responses to most known TLR agonists, including the pure TLR7 agonist imiquimod. Surprisingly, however, neonatal TNF-alpha responses to the imiquimod congener R-848 (TLR 7/8) were fully intact. We now show that TLR8 agonists, including R-848 (TLR7/8), the imidazoquinoline congeners 3M-003 (TLR7/8) and 3M-002 (TLR8), as well as single-stranded viral RNAs (TLR8) induced robust production of the Th1-polarizing cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-12 from neonatal antigen-presenting cells (APCs) that substantially exceeds responses induced by TLR-2, -4, or -7 (alone) agonists. TLR8 agonists also effectively induced up-regulation of the costimulatory molecule CD40 on neonatal and adult myeloid dendritic cells (DCs). The strong activity of TLR8 agonists correlates with their induction of p38 MAP kinase phosphorylation and with degradation of IkappaB-alpha in both neonatal and adult monocytes. We conclude that TLR8 agonists are uniquely efficacious in activating costimulatory responses in neonatal APCs and suggest that these agents are promising candidate adjuvants for enhancing immune responses in human newborns.

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