Open Access Research article

Phagocytic ability of neutrophils and monocytes in neonates

Athanasios Filias1, Georgios L Theodorou2, Sofia Mouzopoulou2, Anastasia A Varvarigou1, Stephanos Mantagos1 and Marina Karakantza2*

Author Affiliations

1 Paediatric Department Medical School & University Hospital, University of Patras, Patras, Greece

2 Division of Hematology, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical School & University Hospital, University of Patras, Patras, Greece

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BMC Pediatrics 2011, 11:29  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-11-29

Published: 14 April 2011

Abstract

Background

Infections by a variety of pathogens are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality during perinatal period. The susceptibility of neonates to bacterial infections has been attributed to immaturity of innate immunity. It is considered that one of the impaired mechanisms is the phagocytic function of neutrophils and monocytes. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the phagocytic ability of neonates at birth.

Methods

The phagocytic ability of neutrophils and monocytes of 42 neonates was determined using the Phagotest flow cytometry method, that assesses the intake of E. Coli by phagocytes, in cord blood and in peripheral blood 3 days after birth. Fifteen healthy adults were included in the study as controls.

Results

The phagocytic ability of neutrophils in the cord blood of neonates was significantly reduced compared to adults. The 3rd postnatal day the reduction of phagocytic ability of neutrophils was no longer significant compared to adults. The phagocytic ability of monocytes did not show any difference from that of adults either at birth or the 3rd postnatal day.

Conclusions

Our findings indicate that the intake of E. Coli by phagocytes is impaired at birth in both preterm and full term neonates compared to adults. This defect is transient, with the phagocytic ability in neonates reaching that of the adults 3 days after birth.

Keywords:
Cord blood; Escherichia Coli; Monocytes; Neonate; Neutrophils; Phagocytosis; Phagocytic ability