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Developmental Immunology
Volume 9 (2002), Issue 1, Pages 1-8

Ontogenic Development of Th1 and Th2 Cytokine Capabilities in Random Bred Mice

Department of Pathology, Immunology Center, Loma Linda University, School of Medicine and Medical Center, 11234 Anderson Street, Loma Linda 92354-2870, CA, USA

Received 1 February 2000; Accepted 19 May 2000

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Neonatal mouse Th1 capabilities mature by postnatal day 5. Neonatal T cells have been reported to exhibit a bias towards Th2 cytokine production when co-cultured with adult antigen presenting cells (APC). We studied mouse T cells co-cultured with contemporary APC to evaluate neonatal cytokine production capabilities. In response to allogeneic stimulation, T cells co-cultured with contemporary APC from day 5 pups produced 37-fold greater IFNγ and 1.4-fold greater IL-2 levels than day 20 weanling mice. After CD3 ligation, cells from day 5 pups produced 4- (IL-2) and 10-fold (IFNγ) greater levels than adults (day 45), and concentrations were 27- (IL-2) and 18-fold (IFNγ) higher than with allogeneic stimulation alone. On average, the percent difference in concentrations was 418 (IL-4), 286 (IL-2) and 1140% (IFNγ) higher in unseparated spleen cells than in isolated splenic CD4 cells and APC. These results demonstrate that, in response to allogeneic stimulation with or without CD3 ligation, lymphocytes of neonatal mice (day 5) have the capacity to produce equivalent or greater TcR-dependent Th1 cytokine (IL-2 and IFNγ) levels than adult mice. Findings also support the idea that the reported Th2 bias of neonatal T cells may be the result of in vitro manipulation and choice of mouse strain, not of an inherent bias.