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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Immunol. | doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.02705

Gender dimorphism in immune development and in response to nutritional intervention

 Zoe Christoforidou1,  Marina Mora-Ortiz2, Carlos Poveda-Turrado2,  Munawar Abbas2,  Gemma E. Walton2,  Swantje Duncker3, Annick Mercenier3, Mick Bailey1 and  Marie C. Lewis2*
  • 1Bristol Veterinary School, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Bristol, United Kingdom
  • 2School of Chemistry, Food & Pharmacy, University of Reading, United Kingdom
  • 3Nestlé Research Center, Switzerland

Although gender disparity in immunological function and susceptibility to various inflammatory and infectious disease is recognised in adults, far less is known about the situation in young infants during immune development. We have used an outbred piglet model to explore potential early gender disparity underlying both mucosal immune development and systemic responses to novel antigen. Despite similarities in intestinal barrier function and therefore, presumably, antigen exposure, females had less CD172+ (Sirp-) antigen presenting cells and expression of MHCIIDR at 28 days old compared to males, along with greater regulatory T-cell numbers. This suggests that, during infancy, females may have greater potential for local immune regulation than their male counterparts. However, females also presented with significantly greater systemic antibody responses to injected ovalbumin and dietary soya. Females also synthesised significantly more IgA in mesenteric lymph nodes, whereas males synthesised more in caecal mucosa, suggesting that plasma cells were retained within the MLN in females, but increased numbers of plasma cells circulated through to the mucosal tissue in males. Significant effects of inulin and B. lactis NCC2818 on the developing immune system were also gender-dependent. Our results may start to explain inconsistencies in outcomes of trials of functional foods in infants, as distinction between males and females is seldom made. Since later functionality of the immune system is highly dependent on appropriate development during infancy, stratifying nutritional interventions by gender may present a novel means of optimising treatments and preventative strategies to reduce the risk of the development of immunological disorders in later life.

Keywords: Immune development, Weaning, mucosal immunity, neonate, gender dimorphism, Prebiotics, Probiotics, Nutritional intervention

Received: 21 Jun 2019; Accepted: 04 Nov 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Christoforidou, Mora-Ortiz, Poveda-Turrado, Abbas, Walton, Duncker, Mercenier, Bailey and Lewis. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Marie C. Lewis, School of Chemistry, Food & Pharmacy, University of Reading, Reading, England, United Kingdom,