Catherine J Devitt

University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

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Publications (11)59.4 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: One explanation for the high burden of allergic and autoimmune diseases in industrialized countries is inappropriate immune development under modern environmental conditions. There is increasing evidence that the process of immune deviation already begins in utero, but the underlying immunologic mechanisms are not clear. OBJECTIVE: We sought to identify differences in the function of neonatal antigen-presenting cells (APCs) in children born in settings that are more traditional versus those of modern societies. METHODS: Cord blood mononuclear cells were collected from newborns from Papua New Guinea (PNG; traditional) and Australia (modern) and compared for differences in APCs and T-cell phenotype and function. RESULTS: Australian cord naive T cells (CD4(+)CD25(-)CD127(+) cells) showed an enhanced and more rapid proliferative response in an autologous, APC-dependent culture system, a result of differences in neonatal APCs rather than T-cell function. This included an increased capacity to process antigen and to upregulate activation markers after stimulation. In contrast, resting PNG APCs exhibited higher baseline levels of activation and inhibitory markers and were less responsive or nonresponsive to stimulation in vitro. CONCLUSIONS: This study supports the hypothesis that prenatal environments can influence the developing immune system in utero. Children born under modern environmental conditions exhibit increased APC reactivity at birth compared with children born under traditional environmental conditions. The functionally more quiescent nature of PNG neonatal APCs might protect against the development of harmful inflammatory responses in early life.
    The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 07/2012; · 12.05 Impact Factor
  • PLoS ONE. 04/2012;
  • The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 01/2012; PMID 22818765. · 12.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Studies addressing the ontogeny of the innate immune system in early life have reported mainly on Toll-like receptor (TLR) responses in infants living in high-income countries, with little or even no information on other pattern recognition receptors or on early life innate immune responses in children living under very different environmental conditions in less-developed parts of the world. In this study, we describe whole blood innate immune responses to both Toll-like and nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD)-like receptor agonists including the widely used vaccine adjuvant 'alum' in a group of Papua New Guinean infants aged 1-3 (n = 18), 4-6 (n = 18), 7-12 (n = 21) and 13-18 (n = 10) months old. Depending on the ligands and cytokines studied, different age-related patterns were found: alum-induced IL-1β and CXCL8 responses were found to significantly decline with increasing age; inflammatory (IL-6, IL-1β, IFN-γ) responses to TLR2 and TLR3 agonists increased; and IL-10 responses remained constant or increased during infancy, while TNF-α responses either declined or remained the same. We report for the first time that whole blood innate immune responses to the vaccine adjuvant alum decrease with age in infancy; a finding that may imply that the adjuvant effect of alum in pediatric vaccines could be age-related. Our findings further suggest that patterns of innate immune development may vary between geographically diverse populations, which in line with the 'hygiene hypothesis' particularly involves persistence of innate IL-10 responses in populations experiencing higher infectious pressure.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(5):e36793. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Environmental changes, including declining microbial exposure, have been linked with the rising incidence of allergic and autoimmune diseases in 'western' populations. This potentially occurs by altering early development of immuno-regulatory pathways including T regulatory cells (T(reg)). There is now increasing evidence that such conditioning begins in utero. We compared neonatal T(reg) from children born under typical western conditions (Australia, AUS) with those of neonates born under more traditional conditions of high microbial burden (Papua New Guinea, PNG). The frequency of neonatal T(reg), defined as CD4(+) Foxp3(+) CD127(-) CD25(+/high) was found to be higher in the cord blood of AUS compared to PNG newborns. However, cord T(reg) suppressive function in a small subset of children was qualitatively similar between PNG and AUS newborns in both a T(reg) depletion assay and a T(reg) supplementation assay. These findings do not support the hypothesis that living in a 'western' versus more traditional environment leads to poor induction or suppressive function of neonatal T(reg). However, environmentally-induced immuno-regulation may potentially occur via alternative mechanisms in PNG newborns that should now be investigated further.
    Pediatric Allergy and Immunology 12/2011; 23(2):173-80. · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between nasopharyngeal pneumococcal colonization in early life and the subsequent development of pneumococcal-specific T cell responses. Pernasal swabs were collected from Papua New Guinean infants at the ages of 1 and 2 weeks (n = 279). At 9 months, in vitro cellular immune responses to choline-binding protein A (n = 132), pneumococcal surface protein A (n = 132), pneumolysin (n = 99), and the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine carrier CRM197 were determined. Responses were compared based on the children's carriage status within the first 2 weeks of life. Within the first 2 weeks of life, 40% of the study children carried Streptococcus pneumoniae. Early carriage was associated with lower interferon-γ and interleukin 10 responses to pneumococcal proteins at age 9 months when children had not received pneumococcal conjugate vaccines during the study period. Early pneumococcal carriage may result in enhanced disease susceptibility and suboptimal vaccine responses by modulating the development of pneumococcal immune responses.
    The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 12/2011; 31(3):243-8. · 3.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Concerns about the risk of inducing immune deviation-associated "neonatal tolerance" as described in mice have restricted the widespread adoption of neonatal vaccination. The aim of this study was to demonstrate the immunological feasibility of neonatal pneumococcal conjugate vaccination (PCV) which could potentially protect high-risk infants in resource poor countries against severe pneumococcal disease and mortality in the early critical period of life. Papua New Guinean infants were randomized to be vaccinated with the 7-valent PCV (7vPCV) at birth, 1 and 2 months (neonatal group, n=104) or at 1, 2 and 3 months of age (infant group, n=105), or to not receive 7vPCV at all (control group, n=109). Analysis of vaccine responses at 3 and 9 months of age demonstrated persistently higher type-1 (IFN-γ) and type-2 (IL-5 and IL-13) T-cell responses to the protein carrier CRM(197) and IgG antibody titres to 7vPCV serotypes in children vaccinated with 7vPCV according to either schedule as compared to unvaccinated children. In a comprehensive immuno-phenotypic analysis at 9 months of age, no differences in the quantity or quality of vaccine-specific T cell memory responses were found between neonatal vaccinations versus children given their first PCV dose at one month. Hospitalization rates in the first month of life did not differ between children vaccinated with PCV at birth or not. These findings demonstrate that neonatal 7vPCV vaccination is safe and not associated with immunological tolerance. Neonatal immunisation schedules should therefore be considered in high-risk areas where this may result in improved vaccine coverage and the earliest possible protection against pneumococcal disease and death.
    Vaccine 06/2011; 29(33):5414-20. · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The protective effect of Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccination against infection and atopy varies between populations. To identify differences in neonatal responses to BCG between diverse populations and study longitudinal associations with memory T-cell responses. Cord blood mononuclear cells were collected from Papua New Guinean (PNG) and Western Australian (WA) newborns. Toll-like receptor (TLR)-2, TLR4, and TLR9 mRNA expression and in vitro BCG-stimulated (+/-IFN-gamma priming) innate cytokine responses were compared. When PNG infants were 3 months old, PBMCs were stimulated in vitro with Mycobacterium-purified protein derivative (PPD) to determine memory T-cell responses. BCG-induced IL-10 and IFN-gamma responses were significantly higher in cord blood mononuclear cells of PNG newborns, and TLR2 and TLR9 expression was significantly higher and TLR4 expression lower compared with WA newborns. High neonatal IL-10 and low IFN-gamma responses to BCG were found to promote the development of PPD-memory T(H)2 responses in infancy, whereas neonatal BCG-TNFalpha responses inhibited the development of PPD-IL 10 responses. When primed with IFN-gamma, BCG-induced TNF-alpha, IL-12p70, and in particular IFN-gamma responses were enhanced to a significantly higher extent in WA than in PNG newborns. In response to IFN-gamma priming and BCG stimulation, natural killer cells of WA newborns produced IFN-gamma, whereas natural killer cells of PNG newborns contributed only indirectly to this response. Neonatal BCG-related innate immune responses control the differentiation of T(H) memory responses and vary between populations. This may explain differences in the effects of BCG vaccination between populations.
    The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 07/2009; 124(3):544-50, 550.e1-2. · 12.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The effects of neonatal immunization with 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (7vPCV) on development of T-cell memory and general immune maturation were studied in a cohort of Papua New Guinean newborns. Neonatal 7vPCV priming (followed by a dose at 1 and 2 months of age) was associated with enhanced Th2, but not Th1, cytokine responses to CRM(197) compared to 7vPCV at 1 and 2 months of age only. T cell responses to non-7vPCV vaccine antigens were similar in all groups, but TLR-mediated IL-6 and IL-10 responses were enhanced in 7vPCV vaccinated compared to controls. Neonatal 7vPCV vaccination primes T cell responses with a polarization towards Th2 with no bystander effects on other T cell responses.
    Vaccine 02/2009; 27(9):1340-7. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Atopic diseases are associated with hyperexpression of Th2 cytokines by allergen-specific T memory cells. However, clinical trials with recently developed Th2 inhibitors in atopics have proven disappointing, suggesting underlying complexities in atopy pathogenesis which are not satisfactorily explained via the classical Th1/Th2 paradigm. One likely possibility is that additional Th2-associated genes which are central to disease pathogenesis remain unidentified. The aim of the present study was to identify such novel Th2-associated genes in recall responses to the inhalant allergen house dust mite. In contrast to earlier human microarray studies in atopy which focused on mitogen-activated T cell lines and clones, we concentrated on PBMC-derived primary T cells stimulated under more physiological conditions of low dose allergen exposure. We screened initially for allergen-induced gene activation by microarray, and validated novel genes in independent panels of subjects by quantitative RT-PCR. Kinetic analysis of allergen responses in PBMC revealed an early wave of novel atopy-associated genes involved in signaling which were coexpressed with IL-4 and IL-4R, followed by a later wave of genes encoding the classical Th2 effector cytokines. We further demonstrate that these novel activation-associated Th2 genes up-regulate in response to another atopy-associated physiological stimulus bacterial superantigen, but remain quiescent in nonphysiological responses in primary T cells or cell lines driven by potent mitogens, which may account for their failure to be detected in earlier microarray studies.
    The Journal of Immunology 05/2006; 176(8):4766-77. · 5.52 Impact Factor
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