Research Topic

Understanding the Ontogeny of the Immune System to Promote Immune-Mediated Health for Life

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Understanding the ontogeny of the human immune system is a prerequisite to developing efficient and safe interventions aimed at providing long-term protection against infectious pathogens or inflammatory disorders originating in early life. The immune system of the fœtus and the newborn infant had long been ...

Understanding the ontogeny of the human immune system is a prerequisite to developing efficient and safe interventions aimed at providing long-term protection against infectious pathogens or inflammatory disorders originating in early life. The immune system of the fœtus and the newborn infant had long been considered as ‘immature’. This insight is based on the observation that infectious diseases are often more severe or more prolonged in early life. However, recent findings indicate that immune effector as well as regulatory responses are functional during fœtal life already. Foetal and early life immune function aims to maintain immune homeostasis yet protect following exposure to infectious pathogens. Both genetic and environmental factors have now been shown to influence the susceptibility to infectious diseases, the immune responses to vaccines and the development of chronic inflammatory disorders in early life. Along with increasing insight into the mechanisms driving ontogeny of the immune system, new avenues to promote immune-mediated health have now appeared that require careful yet rapid evaluation.

The objective of the Research Topic is to provide an overview of the current state of knowledge regarding the ontogeny of the immune system, the immune mediated control of major pathogens affecting the fœtus and the young infant and of the early life origin of chronic inflammatory disorders. Authors are welcomed to critically examine current evidence and identifying major limitations. The Topic will also discuss how this knowledge could be used to develop new strategies towards protecting children against infectious pathogens and prevent the development of chronic inflammatory disorders. The Topic will be primarily focused on human studies but animal studies will be discussed where they provide unique and relevant information. In addition to conceptual summaries, primary research articles will be welcomed especially if they provide information about emerging concepts or cover areas that have not yet been studied sufficiently to synthesize a comprehensive overview; such research articles could include a limited number of data that are suggestive without necessarily providing a final demonstration of new mechanisms or paradigms.

The Research Topic will cover:

- Historical perspective of early life immunology
- Ontogeny of conventional and unconventional T cells, regulatory T cells, B
cells and myeloid cells
- Ontogeny of mucosal innate immune responses
- Genetic regulation of immune responses in early life
- The role of environmental factors in modulating immune responses in early life
- The role and impact of the microbiome on early life immune ontogeny
- Impact of breastfeeding on immune responses in early life
- Impact of maternal antibodies on immune responses in early life
- Early life development of allergy
- Early life origin of autoimmune disorders
- Immunity to infectious pathogens in early life


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