PROBLEM: To obtain a systematic view of changes in the levels of immunoglobulins (Igs), other serum proteins, and autoantibodies during pregnancy and postpartum.
METHOD: A series of 220 women were followed throughout pregnancy and four to six months postpartum.
RESULTS: Immunoglobulin G (IgG) concentration clearly decreased toward term. The concentrations of IgM and IgA decreased only slightly. In most instances autoantibody levels paralleled changes in the corresponding immunoglobulin class levels. In few cases, however, there were clear deviations from this. With respect to IgG class autoantibodies, the highest autoantibody levels were found in the postpartum specimen. IgM class autoantbody levels remained almost constant throughout the follow-up period.
CONCLUSIONS: The intrapregnancy decrease of IgG is mainly due to hemodilution, but when the effect of hemodilution is taken into account, total amounts of IgM and IgA are increased. The results suggests that compared to IgG the regulatory mechanisms of IgM and IgA are altered during pregnancy.