Monocytes are primed to produce the Th1 type cytokine IL-12 in normal human pregnancy: an intracellular flow cytometric analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells

Authors


and current address: I. L. Sargent, Nuffield Department of Obstetrics & Gynacology, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DU.
 E-mail: ian.sargent@obstetrics-gynacology.ox.ac.uk

Summary

This paper considers both monocytes and peripheral blood lymphocytes as potential targets for maternal immunological modulation in pregnancy. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from non-pregnant and normal pregnant donors were stimulated in vitro, and cytokine production detected intracellularly by flow cytometry. It was found that monocyte production of TNF-α was unaltered in pregnancy, while production of IL-12 was significantly enhanced. In contrast, production of the Th1 type cytokine IFN-γ was suppressed in the lymphocyte subsets: CD4+ T helper cells and CD56+ NK cells. Production of the Th2 type cytokine IL-4 in CD4+ cells was not significantly altered in pregnancy. These data suggest that the concept that pregnancy is a ‘Th2 phenomenon’ cannot be generalized to the function of all aspects of maternal cellular immunity as, paradoxically, circulating monocytes are ‘primed’ to produce the Th1 cytokine IL-12. Furthermore, these data support the hypothesis that components of maternal innate immunity are activated in normal pregnancy.

Ancillary