Clinical immunology (Orlando, Fla.)

Developmentally determined reduction in CD31 during gestation is associated with CD8+ T cell effector differentiation in preterm infants.

PMID 26232733


Homeostatic T cell proliferation is more robust during human fetal development. In order to understand the relative effect of normal fetal homeostasis and perinatal exposures on CD8+ T cell behavior in PT infants, we characterized umbilical cord blood CD8+ T cells from infants born between 23-42weeks gestation. Subjects were recruited as part of the NHLBI-sponsored Prematurity and Respiratory Outcomes Program. Cord blood from PT infants had fewer naïve CD8+ T cells and lower regulatory CD31 expression on both naïve and effector, independent of prenatal exposures. CD8+ T cell in vitro effector function was greater at younger gestational ages, an effect that was exaggerated in infants with prior inflammatory exposures. These results suggest that CD8+ T cells earlier in gestation have loss of regulatory co-receptor CD31 and greater effector differentiation, which may place PT neonates at unique risk for CD8+ T cell-mediated inflammation and impaired T cell memory formation.