Early immunological development and mortality from infectious disease in later life

Sophie E. Moore, Andrew C. Collinson, Pa Tamba N'Gom, Richard Aspinall, Andrew M. Prentice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In rural Gambia the risk of mainly infection-related mortality is 10-fold higher for adults born in the nutritionally-debilitating 'hungry' season, suggesting that immune function may be compromised by events early in life. The current programme of research focuses on the biological mechanisms underlying this hypothesis, exploring early-life environmental influences on immune development and the long-term functional consequences these influences may have. Results obtained to date show that thymus development during infancy is critically sensitive to environmental exposures, with smaller thymuses observed in the hungry season. Measurement of the frequency of T-cell receptor excision circles indicate that thymus function is also sensitive to seasonal influences, with further studies implicating variations in breast-milk JL-7 as a possible mediator of these effects. Studies in adults have shown that size at birth is positively correlated with antibody responses to vaccination with polysaccharide antigens, thus providing evidence for long-term functional deficits. The present paper will review progress made to date within this field of research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-318
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Nutrition Society
Volume65
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • Gambia
  • Immune function
  • Programming
  • Thymus
  • Vaccine response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

Cite this