Tolerance induction among neonatal lymphocytes

Neonatal lymphocytes, in contrast to their adult counterparts, are exquisitely sensitive to inactivation following occupation of their antigen-specific surface receptors. The inactivation of neonatal lymphocytes may occur via clonal abortion or deletion or, alternatively, by clonal anergy. The sensitivity of neonatal T and B lymphocytes to tolerance induction is probably of considerable importance in purging high-affinity autoreactive lymphocytes. However, these results have recently been challenged by Ridge and colleagues and Forsthuber and coworkers, wherein neonatal T cell tolerance versus activation was shown to be malleable and is likely to be more dependent upon the characteristics of antigen-presenting cells rather than on the T cells themselves.

Table 2 T cell properties during ontogeny

Fetal/neonatal Adult

TCR repertoire Limited (?) Extensive

T cell subsets 78 and ap T cells 78 and «0 T cells

T cell suppression High Low CD4 T cells:

Cytokines produced upon activation Low levels of IL-2, IL-4, and IFN-y High levels of IL-2, IL-4, and IFN-y

Expression of CD40 ligand Low High

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