IFN-gamma mRNA levels in human neonatal blood mononuclear cells or highly purified T cells were markedly lower than those of adult cells after incubation with Con A and PMA. In contrast, IL-2, IL-2-R, and T3 delta chain mRNA levels were kinetically and quantitatively similar in neonatal and adult T cells. The peak amount of IFN-gamma and IL-2 mRNA correlated well with IFN-gamma and IL-2 detected in supernatants of both neonatal and adult T cells. These results suggest that reduced IFN-gamma mRNA levels in neonatal T cells is due to an intrinsic deficiency at the pretranslational level and indicate that the magnitude of IL-2 and IFN-gamma gene expression can be independently modulated pretranslationally.

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