To cite this article: Diesner SC, Förster-Waldl E, Olivera A, Pollak A, Jensen-Jarolim E, Untersmayr E. Perspectives on immunomodulation early in life. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2012: 23: 210–223.
The immune system early in life is characterized by immature activation and function of immune cells and a preponderance of Th2 cytokines. Together with other factors such as genetics and epigenetics, these immature immune responses might prone newborns susceptible to severe infections as well as allergic diseases. Immunomodulation therapy may have potential as therapeutic strategy against those disorders and might have implication in early-life interventions in the future. In this review, we will focus on two immunomodulatory substance classes, Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands and sphingolipids, which are the focus of extensive research to date. Both TLRs and sphingolipid receptors have a very distinct distribution pattern and function on immune cells. Therefore, they can potentially modulate and balance immune responses, which might be in particular beneficial for the immaturity of the immune response early in life.