Newborn mice develop balanced TH1/TH2 primary effector responses in vivo but are biased to TH2 secondary responses

Becky Adkins, Rong Qing Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


Newborn mice are impaired in their abilities to mount protective immune responses. For decades, it was generally held that the poor responses of newborns were largely due to the developmentally immature state of the T cells. In vitro studies showing that neonatal T cells were deficient in Th1 cytokine production, proliferation, and secondary responsiveness strongly supported this idea. Recently, several studies have challenged this view; animals exposed to Ag as neonates were shown to have mature Th1 responses in adulthood. However, it is not clear whether the mature immune responses were actually mounted by T cells generated after the neonatal stage. We have reexamined this issue by analyzing the capabilities of neonatal lymph node T cells to develop into Ag-specific effector cells during the actual neonatal period. Our results demonstrate that the capacity to develop a balanced Th1/Th2 primary effector response is fully mature within the first week of life. However, while neonatal and adult primary cytokine profiles were very similar, Th2 secondary responses predominated in animals first immunized as newborns. Moreover, we have observed other differences between adults and neonatal responses, including 1) the kinetics of cytokine production and responsiveness to adjuvant during the primary response, and 2) the contribution of spleen and lymph node to secondary responses. We propose that these differences reflect developmental regulation of effector cell function that has important consequences to neonatal immune function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4217-4224
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Newborn mice develop balanced TH1/TH2 primary effector responses in vivo but are biased to TH2 secondary responses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this