Differences in pro-inflammatory responses between preterm and term infant cord blood

Infants born preterm are highly susceptible to infectious diseases, which many factors may contribute to; however, the immature nature of the preterm immune system remains one key factor.

A recent study used high-dimensional flow cytometry and cytokine assays to characterize the immune profiles in 25 preterms (range: 30.4-34.1 weeks gestational age) and 25-term infants (range: 37-40 weeks gestational age) in cord blood samples.

The study found that preterm infants have-

  • A Reduced frequency of monocytes, CD56bright NK cells, CD8+ T-cells, and γδ T-cells compared to term infants. 
  • An increased frequency of intermediate monocytes, CD4+ T-cells, central memory CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells, Tregs, and transitional B-cells compared to term infants. 
  • Lower Pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-17A in addition to chemokines IL-8, eotaxin, MIP-1α, and MIP-1β. 
  • Higher IL-15 and MCP-1.

This study identified the key differences in pro-inflammatory immune profiles between preterm and term infants, thereby allowing for the development of targeted interventions to protect preterm infants who are more susceptible to infectious diseases during early life.

Source:. Front Immunol. 2021 Nov 1;12:777927. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.777927. PMID: 34790206; PMCID: PMC8591285.

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