Neonatal Immunity

Rebecca D Adkins

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The nature of neonatal immunity has defied simple definition, as evidenced by the ongoing evolution of our understanding of responses in early life. In the 1980s, neonates were considered to be immunodeficient, incapable of mounting significant responses of any type. Subsequently, in the 1990s and early 2000s, robust Th2 responses were identified in newborns, and the thinking shifted such that neonates were considered to be immunodeviant. Now, well into the twenty-first century, it is abundantly apparent that neonates are actually competent to mount a wide range of responses, from severely compromised to deviated to mature or supramature. While our understanding of how this arises is still underdeveloped, recent evidence indicates that a wealth of factors likely influence this variability in the responsiveness of neonates. These include cell types and immunomodulators that either exist exclusively in or are differently represented in early life. Many of these factors are negative regulators of immunity and may dominate in those instances of deficient or deviated responses. However, some of these factors can be thought of as positive regulators of immunity and may play important roles in generating protective responses in newborns. Thus, the outcome of challenge to the immune system in early life may be a reflection of the balance between these positive and negative influences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhysiology and Immune System Dysfunction
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9780080921525
StatePublished - Apr 27 2016


  • Developmental epigenetics
  • Fetal
  • Immunodeficient
  • Immunosuppression
  • Maternal effects
  • Microbiome
  • Neonatal
  • Plasma immune modulators
  • Positive immunodulators
  • Recent thymic emigrants (RTE)
  • Treg
  • Variable immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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