Pediatr Res. 1992 Jan;31(1):18-21.
Defective production of interleukin-6 by monocytes: a possible mechanism underlying several host defense deficiencies of neonates.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City 84132.
Several deficiencies in antibacterial defense have been described in neonates. Among those best characterized are delayed maturation of B cells into antibody producing cells, deficient T-cell maturation, and delayed cycling of hematopoietic progenitor cells after an infectious challenge. No unifying theory has been forwarded, however, to explain the concomitance of these three developmental deficiencies. IL-6, a cytokine produced primarily by monocytes and macrophages in response to stimulation by IL-1, is involved in the regulation of these three processes. Thus, we postulated that defective production of IL-6 could be a mechanism underlying these immune deficiencies of neonates. Indeed, we observed that a peak production, cells of five term neonates produced only one half as much IL-6 (14 120 +/- 2590 pg IL-6/10(6) monocytes) as those of five adults (28 940 +/- 1680 pg, p less than 0.001). Peak production was lower still by monocytes of six preterm neonates (7190 +/- 1400 pg, p less than 0.001 versus term). Production of IL-6 protein was inhibited by actinomycin D and the IL-6 mRNA content of monocytes from neonates, as assessed by competitive polymerase chain reaction, was less than that of adult monocytes. We speculate that defective IL-6 transcription might underlie some of the defects in immune regulation observed in neonates.