• Cytokines;
  • IFN-γ;
  • immune system;
  • interleukin-12;
  • preeclampsia

PROBLEM: Abnormal immune activation has been suggested as a contributor to the development of preeclampsia. We hypothesized that intact interleukin (IL)-12 directly, or through its main mediator, interferon (IFN)-γ, contributes to the altered immune response observed in preeclampsia.

METHOD OF STUDY: Plasma samples were collected from 20 patients with preeclampsia and 20 normotensive patients with uncomplicated pregnancies who were matched with the preeclamptic patients by age, gestational age, and parity. Samples were collected before the onset of labor, induction, or medical intervention. The samples were assayed for IL-12 and IFN-γ by specific enzyme-linked immunoassays.

RESULTS: IL-12 was detected in 35% of the preeclamptic patients and in 5% of the patients with normal pregnancies (P < 0.01). The detection rate and mean concentration of IFN-γ were comparable in both groups.

CONCLUSION: Intact plasma IL-12 is detected more frequently in preeclamptic patients, suggesting the involvement of this cytokine in the enhanced immune response observed in preeclampsia.