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Abstract

Hypotheses that inflammation contributes to neonatal cerebral white matter damage have evolved over the last three decades. The latest, expanded here, suggests that the adaptive immune system contributes to the intensity and duration of the processes that result in damage to cerebral white matter in the fetus and newborn. We propose several mechanisms by which fetal T lymphocytes could be activated during fetal exposure to infection. These include specific recognition of bacterial antigens, specific recognition of autoantigens, polyclonal activation by Toll-like receptors, and bystander activation by cytokines. Ann Neurol 2006