Neonatal (cord blood) T cells can competently raise type 1 and 2 immune responses upon polyclonal activation

Cell Immunol. 2000 Nov 1;205(2):110-9. doi: 10.1006/cimm.2000.1718.


In the neonate, cellular immunity has generally been hypothesized as being incompetent. Accumulating evidence from several recent studies, together with our present report, contradicts this hypothesis. T-helper cell and T cytotoxic type 1 and 2 (Th1/Th2 and Tc1/Tc2, respectively) cytokine responses to polyclonal T cell receptor (TCR) activation were assessed in medium-term cultures of human cord blood T cells using intracellular cytokine staining, which could measure the frequencies of cytokine-producing cells. In this study, we examined the responses of cord blood CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells in regard to the production of interferon (IFN)-gamma and interleukin (IL)-4 and compared the responses with those obtained from T cells of healthy adults. We found that the responses in cord blood T cells activated with TCR stimulation were comparable to those of their adult counterparts. Moreover, the Th/Tc cells that developed in cord blood were as competent as adult cells for both IFN-gamma and IL-4 secretion. In addition, IL-12 production, which is critical for both Th1 and Tc1 responses, was equally comparable in the two groups. The production of two major cross-regulatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor-alpha and IL-10, was similarly comparable and not significantly different between the two groups. Taken together, these results indicate that, though naive, the neonatal T cell is competent to respond to TCR-mediated stimulation and to produce both type 1 and type 2 cytokines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fetal Blood / cytology
  • Fetal Blood / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-12 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-4 / biosynthesis
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • Muromonab-CD3 / administration & dosage
  • Muromonab-CD3 / immunology
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase, Non-Receptor Type 1
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • Th1 Cells / cytology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology*
  • Th2 Cells / cytology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis


  • Interleukin-2
  • Muromonab-CD3
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-12
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase, Non-Receptor Type 1