Freshly isolated, murine neonatal T cells produce IL-4 in response to anti-CD3 stimulation

B. Adkins, K. Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


In previous studies of chimeric animals, we found that fetal intrathymic T cell precursors give rise to phenotypically abnormal peripheral T cell populations. Because most peripheral T lymphocytes in newborn mice are the progeny of fetal T cell precursors, this result led to the hypothesis that neonatal and adult T cells differ in their functional capacities. To investigate this issue, the responses of neonatal and adult T cells to anti-CD3 antibody and TCR-independent stimulation were compared. When stimulated with soluble anti-CD3 antibody in the presence of adult accessory cells, neonatal T cell proliferation was markedly decreased compared with that of adult T cells. This reduction in proliferation was associated with both quantitative and qualitative differences in lymphokine production. At 48 h of stimulation with anti-CD3 antibody, neonatal T cells produced at least 10-fold less IL-2 than adult T cells. This apparently accounted for their reduced proliferation because the addition of exogenous IL-2 restored their proliferation to the levels achieved by adult T cells. In striking contrast to adult T cells, neonatal T cells secreted large amounts of IL-4 upon primary stimulation in vitro. The differences between neonatal and adult T cells in proliferation and lymphokine production were shown to be specific for CDS-mediated stimulation. In the presence of phorbol ester and calcium ionophore, neonatal and adult T cells showed equivalent proliferation and IL-2 production. Under these conditions, IL-4 production by neonatal or adult T cells was essentially undetectable. Thus, in response to TCR-independent stimulation, freshly isolated neonatal and adult T cells show similar functional responses. However, when stimulation occurs via the CDS components of the TCR, the responses of neonatal T cells resemble those of primed T cells from adult animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3448-3455
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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