Recent studies have shown that neonatal mice are competent to develop mature, Ag-specific Th1 function in situ. However, under many conditions, Th2 responses dominate in the neonate, while Th1 responses are more prevalent in adults. To compare further the immune responses of neonates and adults, we used the enzyme-linked immunospot method to measure the frequencies of primary Th1/Th2 effectors generated in situ in the spleens and lymph nodes. As assessed by the detection of IFN-γ- or IL-4-producing cells, adults developed mixed Th1/Th2 responses in both organs. Neonatal lymph nodes contained mature frequencies of IFN-γ- and IL-4-producing cells. In striking contrast, while mature frequencies of Th2 cells developed in neonatal spleens, virtually no IFN-γ-secreting cells were detected. Exclusive Th2 function was observed in both BALB/c and C57BL/6 neonates, strains in which the Th2 and Th1 lineages, respectively, are favored in adults. Although Th1 effectors were virtually undetectable, the addition of rIL-12 boosted the frequency of IFN-γ-secreting cells to adult levels. Therefore, Th1 effectors apparently developed in situ, but Th1 effector function either was not promoted or was inhibited upon subsequent exposure to the Ag in culture. Together, these results indicate that the quality of a primary Th response in neonates is strongly dependent on the site of initial Ag exposure; responses initiated in the lymph nodes are mixed Th1/Th2, whereas responses occurring in the spleen are heavily Th2 biased.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy