• Newborn;
  • pregnant women;
  • PGE2;
  • indomethacin;
  • T-lymphocyte suppressive activity;
  • HLA class II antigen expression

ABSTRACT: It has been previously shown that T lymphocytes from human newborns and pregnant women exert a suppressive activity when assayed on the PWM-induced B cell maturation. The mechanisms of the suppression have remained entirely unknown. Prostaglandin E2, known to trigger T-cell mediated suppressive activity, may be involved. We took advantage of the treatment of pregnant women with indomethacin, because of premature labor or hydramnios, to investigate the role of prostaglandins in the activation of T suppressor (TS) activity. Administration of indomethacin (250 mg/day for 1–7 weeks, then 150 mg/day for 3–12 weeks) during the third trimester of pregnancy, abrogated the TS activity in the nine women and the three newborns tested. Abrogation of TS activity by indomethacin therapy led to normal PWM-induced B cell maturation in pregnant women but not in newborns. Moreover, the low expression of HLA class II antigens observed on normal newborn B lymphocytes and monocytes was corrected in newborns from indomethacin-treated mothers. Our results strongly suggest that prostaglandins may play a role in induction of TS activity observed in normal pregnant women and newborns and in the decreased expression of HLA class II antigens on newborns' leucocytes. Both phenomena could play a role in immunological interactions between mother and fetus.