ONTOGENY OF FETAL SHEEP POLYMORPHONUCLEAR LEUKOCYTE PHAGOCYTOSIS JOURNAL OF PEDIATRIC SURGERY Jennings, R. W., Adzick, N. S., Longaker, M. T., Duncan, B. W., Scheuenstuhl, H., Hunt, T. K. 1991; 26 (7): 853-855


Premature infants and neonates are vulnerable to bacterial sepsis. This susceptibility may be due to the relative immaturity of their immune systems. To determine if neonates and, in particular, premature infants have decreased polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) phagocytosis, we tested PMN phagocytosis of Staphylococcus aureus as a function of gestational age in the fetal lamb model. Because phagocytosis is made more efficient by the presence of opsonins in plasma, fetal and postnatal PMN phagocytosis were also measured after exposure to fetal and adult plasma. PMNs were isolated from fetal lambs at 104, 114, 124, and 141 days' gestation (term gestation for the fetal lamb is 145 days), as well as from 10-day-old neonatal sheep and adult sheep. Labeled S aureus were opsonized by incubation in either fetal or adult plasma, or left unopsonized for baseline values. Phagocytosis was measured as a percent of adult PMN phagocytosis after adult plasma opsonization. It was found that fetal PMN function is limited by two factors during the early third trimester: a primary defect in the ability of the PMN to phagocytose S aureus despite adequate opsonization, and the diminished ability of autologous fetal plasma to opsonize bacteria. The defect in PMN phagocytosis disappears late in the third trimester, but the inability of the fetal plasma to opsonize effectively continues until after birth.

View details for Web of Science ID A1991FU99300025

View details for PubMedID 1895198