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Developmental Immunology
Volume 9, Issue 1, Pages 9-17

Maternal Modulation of Neonatal Immune System Development

Department of Pathology, Immunology Center, Loma Linda University, School of Medicine and Medical Center, 11234 Anderson St. Room 2578, Loma Linda 92354-2870, CA, USA

Received 1 August 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.


Changes in programming of neonatal immune development were effected through maternal immune modulation (Leishmania major inoculation). In progeny of these dams, immune profiles in both blood and spleen were changed throughout the neonatal period and were pronounced after weaning. White blood cell (WBC) and lymphocyte counts in blood of 45-day-old progeny were two-fold less than control animals. In blood, proportions of B cells were greater, while T helpers, Tc/s and NK cells were less than in controls. In contrast, proportions of splenic B and NK cells were greater than controls. But, proportions of all T and Tc/s cells on d20 and 45 were lower than controls. In blood, absolute numbers of all T, Th naïve and Th memory cells were lower than in controls. In contrast, in the spleen, numbers of NK, T and Th naïve and memory cells were up to 200% greater than in control pups. Cytokine responses of splenic lymphocytes stimulated through CD3 ligation revealed no difference in IL-4 production. In contrast, IL-2 and IFNγ were lower on d45 and 5, respectively, in the experimental compared to control mice. These data support the hypothesis that maternal immune events during gestation can modulate the pattern of immune development in offspring.