BACKGROUND: The immaturity of immune system characterizes newborn infants. Possible serological markers of Th1 and Th2 immune response are the lymphocyte activation gene-3 (CD223) and soluble CD30, respectively (sCD30). AIMS: The aim of our study was to evaluate the relationship between Th1 and Th2 immune response and gestational age (GA), comparing data in preterm and term neonates. STUDY DESIGN: Cord blood from 20 preterm (GA: 33±2weeks, BW 1950±490g) and 20 term infants (GA: 38±1weeks, BW: 3177±330g) were tested for sCD30 and CD223 levels by ELISA. IFNγ levels produced by cord blood lymphocytes were also analyzed, both before and after stimulation with phytohaemagglutinin (PHA). RESULTS: sCD30 resulted significantly higher in preterm neonates when compared with term neonates (60±7.6 vs 42.6±3.9U/ml p<0.05). CD223 was undetectable in preterm neonates while resulting at a level of 176.1±112.6ng/ml in term neonates. After stimulation with PHA, a significant increase in IFNγ levels was only observed in term neonates (326.6±72.7pg/ml p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Our findings show that sCD30 is present and measurable in term and preterm infants, while CD223 is detectable only in term infants and that Th-cell polarization could also depend on gestational age. Our data suggest that a Th2 immune response seems predominant in preterm neonates.
- Newborn infants