Characterization of Regulatory T Cells in Preterm and Term Infants

  • Asmaa M. Zahran
  • Khaled SaadEmail author
  • Yasser F. Abdel-Raheem
  • Khalid I. Elsayh
  • Amira A. El-Houfey
  • Mohamed Diab Aboul-Khair
  • Mohamd A. Alblihed
Original Article


Our study aimed to study regulatory T cells (Tregs) and their expression of CD45RA, HLA-DR, and CD39 in preterm and full-term infants. In an observational study, we used a three-color flow cytometry for determination of Tregs and their expression of CD45RA, HLA-DR, and CD39 in preterm and full-term infants. The percentages of CD4+CD25+highFoxp3+, CD39+ Tregs, HLA-DR+ Tregs and the expression of Foxp3+ in CD4+CD25+highFoxp3 Tregs cells were significantly lower in neonates when compared to healthy adult controls. The levels of naïve resting Tregs (CD45RA+Tregs) were significantly higher in neonates than controls. The percentages of CD4+CD25+highFoxp3+Tregs, total CD4+CD25+ and CD4+CD25+high were significantly higher in preterm infants when compared to the full-term group. Moreover, CD45RA+Tregs were significantly higher in preterm than in term infants. We found significant inverse correlations between the gestational age and the levels of both Tregs (r = − 0.395, p = 0.017) and CD45RA+Tregs (r = − 0.422, p = 0.010). Relative to full-term, the frequencies, and phenotypes of Tregs were affected by prematurity. A larger longitudinal study with a sufficient number of newborns is needed to investigate the Treg pool of term and preterm infants thoroughly and to explore the association between the Treg pool and clinical variables.


Regulatory T cells Preterm Full-term newborn 



No funding was secured for this study. The authors have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare no potential conflicts of interest concerning the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. All authors approved the final manuscript as submitted and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

Ethical approval

The protocol of this study was under the regulations of the relevant clinical research ethics committee and with those of the code of ethics of the world medical association Declaration of Helsinki.

Informed consent

Written informed consents of caregivers of all children were taken according to the Ethical Committee of Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University, Egypt.


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Copyright information

© L. Hirszfeld Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy, Wroclaw, Poland 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical Pathology Department, South Egypt Cancer InstituteAssiut UniversityAssiutEgypt
  2. 2.Pediatric Department, Faculty of MedicineAssiut UniversityAssiutEgypt
  3. 3.Department of Community Health Nursing, Faculty of NursingAssiut UniversityAssiutEgypt
  4. 4.Department of Community Health Nursing, Sabia University CollegeJazan UniversityJizanKingdom of Saudi Arabia
  5. 5.Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of MedicineAl-Azhar UniversityCairoEgypt
  6. 6.Department of Medical Biochemistry, School of MedicineTaif UniversityTaifKingdom of Saudi Arabia

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