Postnatal Development Of The Immune System

It is during the immediate postnatal period that acquired immune function is first detectable in mammals (Ghia et al. 1998). Functional B and T lymphocytes are produced in the bone marrow and thymus, respectively, and migrate to the spleen, lymph nodes, and mucosal associated lymphoid tissues (MALT) as functional end cells (Osmond 1985). However, a mature pattern of immune response to antigens is not achieved until approximately one month of age in rodents. During the first month of postnatal life in mice, the immune system remains immature, fails to produce antibodies to carbohydrate antigens, and the humoral immune response to antigens is dominated by the production of IgM (Mosier et al. 1979; Dorshkind 1986). After this period of perinatal immunodeficiency, mice mount mature immune responses to protein and carbohydrate antigens and respond to intracellular pathogens, and the immune response can be assumed to accurately portray mature postnatal immune function (Raff et al. 1970).

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