• Newborn;
  • pregnant women;
  • T lymphocyte suppressive activity;
  • monocyte suppressive activity;
  • PGE2

ABSTRACT: Recently the concept of a poorly functional humoral immune response in the newborn was proposed. Data have been presented indicating that the impaired newborn B cell maturation, as shown in vitro in a pokeweed mitogen-induced B cell maturation system, is due both to an immaturity of lymphocyte subsets and to an increased suppressive T activity. In the present work, we present evidence that there exists a predominance of a naturally occurring T lymphocyte suppressive activity in the cord blood in that the removal of the suppressive activity by irradiation allows a normal maturation of newborn B cells. Such normal maturation of newborn B cells can also be obtained using mixed cultures of adult T cells and newborn B cells. Newborn suppressor T cells belong to both EAγ(+) and EAγ(—) fractions, and it is not known whether these two groups do or do not belong to different subsets. The PGE2-dependent monocyte suppressive activity does not play any role in the suppression observed in newborns since newborn monocytes are poorly suppressive and since they produce a smaller amount of PGE2 than adult monocytes. Some observations suggest, on the contrary, that the suppressive T lymphocytes can regulate the level of the PGE2-dependent monocyte suppressive activity.

It should be noticed that similar observations about T lymphocyte and PGE2-dependent monocyte suppressive activities have been made at the same time using mothers' cells. These observations suggest the possibility that such changes in B cell immune regulation may result from an interaction between maternal and fetal lymphoid cells.