Home Medizin Neugeborene T-Zellen zeichnen sich durch hervorragende Immunabwehr aus

Neugeborene T-Zellen zeichnen sich durch hervorragende Immunabwehr aus

von NFI Redaktion

Scientist have long believed that a newborn’s immune system is an immature version of an adult’s immune system, but new research from Cornell University shows that newborn T-cells – white blood cells that protect against diseases – outperform adults in defending against numerous infections.

These findings help to clarify why adults and infants react differently to infections and pave the way for controlling T-cell behavior for therapeutic applications.

This discovery was described in an article published in Scientific Immunology on February 23, co-led by Brian Rudd, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and Andrew Grimson, Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics.

For example, adult T-cells surpass newborn T-cells in tasks such as antigen recognition, memory formation, and response to repeated infections, leading to the assumption that infant T-cells were just a weaker version of adult T-cells. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many were surprised by the apparent absence of diseases in infants, challenging this long-held belief.

To understand these age-related differences, Rudd and Grimson discovered that newborn T-cells are not deficient; instead, they are involved in a part of the immune system that does not require antigen recognition: the innate arm of the immune system. While adult T-cells rely on adaptive immunity, recognizing specific germs to fight them later, newborn T-cells are activated by proteins associated with innate immunity, providing rapid but nonspecific protection against microbes the body has never encountered.

“Our work shows that neonatal T-cells are not impaired, they simply differ from adult T-cells, and these differences likely reflect the types of functions that are most useful for the host at certain life stages.”

Brian Rudd, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Cornell University

Newborn T-cells may be involved in the innate arm of the immune system, allowing them to do something that most adult T-cells cannot: react in the very early stages of an infection and defend against a variety of unknown bacteria, parasites, and viruses.

“We know that neonatal T-cells do not protect as well against repeated infections with the same pathogen as adult T-cells. But neonatal T-cells actually have an improved ability to protect the host from early stages of a primary infection,” Rudd said. “So, you can’t say that adult T-cells are better than newborn T-cells or that newborn T-cells are better than adult T-cells. They simply have different functions.”

Following this discovery, Rudd aims to study the newborn T-cells that persist in humans into adulthood. “We are also interested in investigating how changes in the relative number of neonatal T-cells in adults contribute to different susceptibilities to infections and disease outcomes,” he said.

This work was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health.


Journal Reference:

Watson, NB, et al. (2024) The gene regulatory basis of bystander activation in CD8+ T cells. Scientific Immunology. doi.org/10.1126/sciimmunol.adf8776.

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