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Mirjam Belderbos

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Neonatal innate immunity - a translational perspective

Promotor: Prof.dr Jan.L.L. Kimpen
Defence: 7 February 2012

Neonatal innate immune responses at birth are distinct from those of adults, and polarized against generation of Th1-polarizing responses. After birth, the innate immune system rapidly matures. Disrupted postnatal immune development may contribute to the pathogenesis of infections and allergy.

This thesis describes the ontogeny of the neonatal innate immune system in the first month of life. It demonstrates that in vivo, breast feeding is the main environmental determinant of neonatal innate immune function at the age of one month. Distinct neonatal innate immune responses predispose to subsequent atopic dermatitis. Cord blood deficiency of vitamin D, a nutrient with immune modulatory properties, were associated with increased risk of viral bronchiolitis. In vitro, soluble factors in neonatal plasma contribute to polarized neonatal TLR4-mediated cytokine production.

Together, this thesis identifies the first month of life as an essential period for the development of the innate immune system. Interventions that target immune development during the first month of life may prevent infections and allergy.