Plasma-mediated immune suppression: a neonatal perspective

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Plasma is a rich mixture of immune regulatory factors that shape immune cell function. This immunomodulatory role of plasma is especially important in neonates. To maintain in utero feto-maternal tolerance and to allow for microbial colonization after birth, the neonatal immune system is biased against pro-inflammatory responses while favoring immune suppression. Therefore, the neonatal period provides a unique opportunity to study the physiologic mechanisms regulating the immune system. Several recent studies in neonates have identified plasma factors that play a key role in immune regulation. Insight into immune regulation by neonatal and adult plasma may have clinical implications, because plasma is easily accessible, affordable, and widely available. Herein, we review plasma-mediated immune regulation, with specific focus on neonatal plasma. We discuss how immune suppression is a key function of plasma and provide a systematic overview of the published literature regarding plasma-derived immune suppressive proteins, lipids, purines, and sugars. Finally, we outline how immune regulation by these factors, which are particularly abundant in neonatal plasma, may eventually be used to treat immune-mediated diseases, such as autoimmune, allergic, and inflammatory diseases.

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