Naive Murine Neonatal T Cells Undergo Apoptosis in Response to Primary Stimulation

Becky Adkins, Ki Chun, Kara Hamilton, Mehdi Nassiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The cellular mechanisms controlling deficient immune responses in newborn animals are not well understood. Our earlier studies showed that developmental regulation of Th cell activity may be one of the major causes of immunodeficiency in neonatal animals. Naive murine neonatal T cells showed poor Th1 activity but robust Th2 activity in response to primary stimulation in vitro. Although they produced high levels of IL-4, neonatal T cells proliferated poorly, suggesting that neonatal T cell survival in primary cultures may be limited. We show here that, unlike adult T cells, naive neonatal T cells undergo apoptosis in response to primary TCR-mediated stimulation. Ligation of the TCR alone, in the absence of accessory cell costimulation, is sufficient to induce apoptosis. Moreover, CD4+ and CD8+ T cells show equivalent levels of apoptosis. Lastly, this apoptosis can be prevented by the addition of excess IL-2 or by conditions promoting a high level of IL-2 production (TCR-independent stimulation, anti-CD28 mAb, or exogenous IL-6) by neonatal T cells. However, IL-2 alone is not sufficient to support functional rescue from apoptosis; only IL-6 supports the ability of these cells both to survive and to mount vigorous secondary responses. The identification of conditions allowing functional rescue from apoptosis in vitro has important implications for enhancing vaccine responsiveness in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1343-1349
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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