Dramatic development of immune system after birth

Published: 2018-08-24


When a baby is born its immune system starts to change dramatically in response to its new environment, Petter Brodin (Karolinska Institutet/SciLifeLab) and colleagues report in a paper published in Cell. The study was made possible using new techniques of immune cell analysis at SciLifeLab.

“This is the first time we’ve pinned down how the human immune system adapts itself to birth and the new environment,” says Petter Brodin. “We saw drastic changes in the babies’ immune system between each sampling, which shows that it is highly dynamic early in life.”

The study was enabled by Plasma Profiling and Clinical Genomics at SciLifeLab and compared blood samples from 100 babies, both premature and full-term, taken during the first, fourth and twelfth week. The comparison was achieved using an advanced technique of immune cell analysis: mass cytometry in combination with extensive plasma protein analyses. Just a few drops of blood from each baby are needed to analyze all the white blood cells and hundreds of proteins circulating in the blood.

“Our results are important for better understanding the infection-sensitivity of newborn babies and the risks of premature birth,” says Petter Brodin.

Read full scientific paper in Cell

Read full press release from Karolinska Institutet