The generation of Th memory in neonates versus adults: Prolonged primary Th2 effector function and impaired development of Th1 memory effector function in murine neonates

B. Adkins, Y. Bu, P. Guevara

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104 Scopus citations


Immunization during the neonatal period often results in Th2-biased secondary responses. To understand the regulation of this phenomenon, we have examined all phases of Th development, from the generation of primary effectors to the duration of the primary effector stage to the production of memory effector function. First, we had previously reported that although primary responses in the neonatal lymph nodes are mature, mixed Th1/Th2-like, primary responses in the spleens of the same animals are exclusively Th2-like. To determine whether Th2-dominant secondary responses are due to the Th2-polarized primary function in the spleen, neonates were splenectomized before immunization. Even in the absence of primary neonatal splenic responses, the secondary responses of neonates were Th2 dominant. Thus, the overwhelmingly Th2 primary responses in the neonatal spleen are not required to generate Th2-dominant memory in the lymph nodes. Second, we have compared the kinetics of the primary response phase in neonates and adults. In adults, Ag-specific Th2 function disappeared rapidly from both the lymph nodes and spleen. In contrast, primary Th2 function persisted out to 5 wk in both neonatal organs. Third, the generation of Th memory responses was examined in animals initially immunized as neonates and in adults. These experiments demonstrated that neonates are selectively impaired in the development of Th1 memory effector function. Together, these results indicate that neonates are biased to Th2 function at all phases of an immune response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)918-925
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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