It is well established that murine neonates are biased toward Th2 responses. Th2-dominant responses are observed following immunization with a variety of Ags, using different carrier/adjuvant systems, and are seen in both BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice. Therefore, Th2 skewing appears to be a universal phenomenon unique to the neonatal period. One important question about this phenomenon is whether these responses are due to T cell intrinsic properties or are regulated by the neonatal environment. Here we have addressed this issue by transferring neonatal or adult CD4+ lymph node cells to adoptive adult recombinase-activating gene 2-/- hosts and studied the development of Th responses. Neonatal CD4+ cells were highly deficient in the development of both primary and secondary Ag-specific Th1 responses. This did not appear to be due to anergy of a developed population, since exogenous IL-2 only marginally increased production of the Th1 cytokine IFN-γ. This profound Th1 deficiency was observed despite similar proliferation by neonatal and adult cells within the recombinase-activating gene 2-/- hosts. Moreover, neonatal CD4+ cells up-regulated activation markers in a manner similar to adult CD4+ cells. Therefore, although their proliferation and phenotypic maturation proceeded normally, neonatal CD4+ cells appeared to be intrinsically deficient in the functional maturation of Th1 lineage cells. These results offer a candidate explanation for the reduced graft-vs-host responses observed following transplantation of cord blood cells or murine neonatal lymphoid cells to allogeneic adult hosts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy