IL-2 receptor is expressed at low levels on adult blood lymphocytes, and at lower levels on cord blood cells. IL-2 receptor α and β chain expression increases gradually from 0-18 months of age. The level of soluble CD25 (IL-2 receptor α chain) has been reported to be elevated in cord blood. Quantitative RT-PCR showed that adult cells express 10 times as much CD25 mRNA as cord cells. Cord plasma showed only a marginal ability to strip CD25 from the membrane. To assess the functional consequences of low IL-2 receptor expression, cord and adult cells were activated in vitro. The response was stimulus-dependent, but cord cells upregulated CD25 readily. Cord and adult cells proliferated in an IL-2-dependent assay to a similar extent. Infants suffering acute infection showed marginally higher levels of membrane CD25 expression than infants without overt infection. Thus neonatal and infant lymphocytes express lower levels of IL-2 receptors than adult cells, reflecting lower mRNA concentrations at least for CD25; they are able to up- regulate receptors in response to in vitro stimulation and are able to respond in vitro to IL-2-dependent stimulation; however in vivo there may be a dampening down of the IL-2 system in infancy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy