Low Expression of the Interleukin (IL)-4 Receptor Alpha Chain and Reduced Signalling via the IL-4 Receptor Complex in Human Neonatal B Cells

Immunology. 2006 Sep;119(1):54-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2006.02405.x. Epub 2006 Jun 8.


Diminished neonatal antibody responses following infection or immunization may stem in part from intrinsic characteristics of neonatal B cells. In this study, we used B-cell subset sorting combined with gene expression assays to investigate major differences in the expression of host genes in neonatal and adult naïve B cells. We discovered significantly reduced expression of the interleukin (IL)-4 receptor alpha chain and reduced IL-4-induced signalling in neonatal B cells. Neonatal naïve B cells were susceptible to more rapid and more profound levels of apoptosis when cultured in vitro. They also exhibited a limited response to IL-4 treatment compared with adult cells. The expression level of the IL-13 receptor alpha 1 chain, a key component of the IL-13 receptor/IL-4 type II receptor, and the response to IL-13 treatment for protection against apoptosis in neonatal B cells were similar to those of the adult B cells. These studies suggest a possible mechanism underlying the limited magnitude and durability of neonatal antibody responses.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Apoptosis
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Cell Separation / methods
  • Fetal Blood / immunology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interleukin-13 / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-13 Receptor alpha1 Subunit / metabolism
  • Interleukin-4 / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-4 Receptor alpha Subunit / analysis*
  • Interleukin-4 Receptor alpha Subunit / immunology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • IL13RA1 protein, human
  • Interleukin-13
  • Interleukin-13 Receptor alpha1 Subunit
  • Interleukin-4 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor
  • Interleukin-4