Newborns are far more susceptible to infection and respond more poorly to vaccination than adults. Brian Rudd and his lab study the regulation and mechanisms of early-life immunity to understand why. Immunity against infectious agents is largely dependent upon memory CD8+ T cells, yet the basic mechanisms underlying the generation of poor CD8+ T cell responses in neonates are unknown.
The researchers have developed models of neonatal infection and characterized the generation of primary and memory CD8+ T cells in neonates and adults. Preliminary data indicates that neonatal CD8+ T cells may form poor memory, not because of an inability to respond, but rather because they more quickly become terminally differentiated.
The goal of the research is to quantify the extent to which cell-intrinsic and environmental differences contribute to impaired neonatal CD8+ T cells in order to locate and fix defects. Ultimately, the study will provide key insight into how best to improve CD8+ T cell immunity in early, critical stages of development. NIH Grant Number: R01AI105265