The RG Ravens and RG Prinz have recently developed an mRNA-based high-throughput analysis technology and bioinformatics methods to analyze T-cell receptor repertoires within neonates and adults (Ravens et al., 2017). Initial data of defined patient cohorts indicates (i) a postnatal, extrathymic maturation of T cells (Ravens et al., 2017; DiLorenzo et al., 2019) and (ii) that viral infections leave a sustained footprint within the antigen receptor repertoire (Ravens et al., 2017; Ravens et al., 2018). The latter results propose that antigen receptor repertoires might serve as valuable biomarkers.
Similarly, RG Viemann found a profound reprogramming and imprinting of cellular and molecular innate immunity in healthy infants during the first year of life that is driven by endogenous as well as environmental triggers (Austermann et al., 2014; Heinemann et al., 2017; Ulas et al., 2017; Pirr et al., 2017; Bickes et al., 2019).
Altogether, these findings reflect the developmental plasticity and suggest options for an iatrogenic imprinting of innate and adaptive immunity to promote immune maturation and adaptation during early life in individuals at high risk for infection- and immune-mediated diseases. Within RESIST, we combine our expertise and jointly continue the work on how a defined microbiota influences the functional maturation of T cells and B cells within preterm infants and how the expressed antigen-receptor repertoire is shaped during early life.