Changes in T, B, and NK Lymphocyte Subsets During and After Normal Pregnancy
Article first published online: 6 SEP 2011
American Journal of Reproductive Immunology
Volume 37, Issue 5, pages 368–377, May 1997
How to Cite
Watanabe, M., Iwatani, Y., Kaneda, T., Hidaka, Y., Mitsuda, N., Morimoto, Y. and Amino, N. (1997), Changes in T, B, and NK Lymphocyte Subsets During and After Normal Pregnancy. American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 37: 368–377. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0897.1997.tb00246.x
- Issue published online: 6 SEP 2011
- Article first published online: 6 SEP 2011
- Accepted November 15, 1996
- Lymphocyte subset;
PROBLEM: Pregnancy affects the maternal immune system and the clinical course of maternal diseases. Here we report the changes in the detailed lymphocyte subsets of helper T cells, suppressor T cells, CD5+ B cells, T cell receptor (TCR) αβ-positive T cells (Tαβ cells), TCRαβ-negative T cell (Tγδ cells), and others during and after pregnancy through to one year postpartum, and discuss the significance of the changes.
METHOD: The absolute numbers of helper T cells, suppressor T cells, cytotoxic T cells, TCRαβ-negative T cells (Tγδ cells), CD5— B cells, CD5+ B cells, and NK cell subsets were examined by two-color flow cytometry in peripheral blood from 51 healthy non-pregnant women, 106 healthy pregnant women, and 148 healthy postpartum women.
RESULTS: In early pregnancy, the numbers of suppressor T cells and NK cells with strong cytotoxicity (NK+++ cells) increased, and the number of cytotoxic T cells decreased. In late pregnancy, the helper T cell and NK+++ cell numbers decreased. Tαβ, CD5— B and CD5+ B cells decreased during pregnancy. After delivery, helper T cells and cytotoxic T cells increased from 1 to 4 months postpartum, and suppressor T cells increased at 7 months postpartum. TCRαβ-negative T cells increased at 4 to 10 months postpartum. Both CD5— and CD5+ B cells decreased further at 1 month postpartum, but CD5+ B cells increased markedly at 7 to 10 months postpartum.
CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that 1) early increases of suppressor T cells and NK+++ cells during pregnancy may be related to the mechanism to accept or reject the fetus in early pregnancy, respectively; 2) late decreases of helper T cells and NK+++ cells may be related to the maintenance of pregnancy: 3) postpartum increases of helper T cells, cytotoxic T cells, TCRαβ-negative T cells (Tγδ cells), and CD5+ B cells may be related to the postpartum aggravation of autoimmune diseases; and 4) the immunological effects of pregnancy remains until about 1 year after delivery.