Research Topic

Autoimmunity and Chronic Inflammation in Early Life

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About this Research Topic

The immune system is charged with the very difficult task of protecting an organism against pathogen-associated diseases and cancers, while also tolerating self-antigens. Unsurprisingly, the development and fine-tuning of the immune system is energetically costly. For instance, only about 10% of developing T ...

The immune system is charged with the very difficult task of protecting an organism against pathogen-associated diseases and cancers, while also tolerating self-antigens. Unsurprisingly, the development and fine-tuning of the immune system is energetically costly. For instance, only about 10% of developing T cells ever become mature and participate in the process of protecting the host. It is generally accepted that the pediatric immune system requires additional activation signals, relative to the adult immune system, to mount a productive immune response. However, there is debate as to whether this is due to an increased intensity of activation signals (e.g. hypo-responsiveness to TLR signaling and increased regulatory cells) or merely due to a lack of memory to specific antigens (e.g. an increase in antigen-inexperienced adaptive immune cells). One example of the hyporesponsive immune response in children can be found in the administration of the influenza virus vaccine during the first flu season of life. Pediatric patients are required to receive two doses of influenza vaccine in order to ensure adequate immune priming and protection.

Regardless of mechanisms that drive the increased requirement for immune activation, the pediatric population is particularly vulnerable to disease. Disruption in the normal development of the immune system can have the opposite effect of hypo-responsiveness, which can result in inflammatory disease. For example, diseases of prematurity include inflammation of the lung (e.g. Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia) and brain (e.g. periventricular leukomalacia). Other common childhood inflammatory diseases that are not necessarily associated with prematurity include asthma, allergies, and type I diabetes.

In this Research Topic, we call for publications that relate to the pediatric immune response to a variety of diseases associated with aberrant activation of the pediatric immune system. Such conditions include, but are not limited to:

1. Autoimmune and pediatric rheumatological diseases (Type 1 diabetes, atopic dermatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease)
2. Inflammatory Diseases in premature infants (e.g. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia, periventricular leukomalacia, necrotizing enterocolitis) with a focus on the immune system
3. New potential therapeutic targets targeting the immune system in infants
4. Activation of the immune system in, and immunotherapies for, common childhood cancers

Article types considered for this Research Topic include Original Research, Review, Perspective, and Clinical trial articles. Studies that utilize animal models, cell culture systems, and/or human subject studies that integrate high-dimensional datasets are encouraged. Furthermore, work presenting potential cellular and molecular therapeutic targets are of interest. Overall, we aim to bring additional attention to how aberrant immune responses in the pediatric population relate to common childhood disease, and how such disease processes could be disrupted.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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