Neonatal innate immunity is distinct from that of adults, which may contribute to increased susceptibility to infection and limit vaccine responses. B cells play critical roles in protection from infection and detect PAMPs via TLRs, that, when co-activated with CD40, can drive B-cell proliferation and Ab production. We characterized the expression of TLRs in circulating B cells from newborns and adults, and evaluated TLR- and CD40-mediated naïve B-cell class-switch recombination (CSR) and cytokine production. Gene expression levels of most TLRs was similar between newborn and adult B cells, except that newborn naïve B cells expressed more TLR9 than adult naïve B cells. Neonatal naïve B cells demonstrated impaired TLR2- and TLR7- but enhanced TLR9-mediated cytokine production. Significantly fewer newborn naïve B cells underwent CSR to produce IgG, an impairment also noted with IL-21 stimulation. Additionally, co-stimulation via CD40 and TLRs induced greater cytokine production in adult B cells. Thus, while newborn naïve B cells demonstrate adult-level expression of TLRs and CD40, the responses to stimulation of these receptors are distinct. Relatively high expression of TLR9 and impaired CD40-mediated Ig secretion contributes to distinct innate and adaptive immunity of human newborns and may inform novel approaches to early-life immunization.
Keywords: B lymphocyte; TLR; class-switch recombination; cytokine; neonatal.
© The Author(s) 2016.