Natural Killer Cell Activity and Cytokine Production after In Vitro Immunoglobulin Treatment of Lymphocytes Derived from Pregnant Women with or without Risk for Spontaneous Abortion


Department of Microbiology, University Medical School of Pécs, H-7643 Pécs, Hungary. E-mail:


Szereday L, Späth P, Szekeres-Bartho J. Natural killer cell activity and cytokine production after in vitro immunoglobulin treatment of lymphocytes derived from pregnant women with or without risk for spontaneous abortion. AJRI 1999; 42:282–287 © Munksgaard, Copenhagen

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the possible mechanism of action effective in immunoglobulin G (IgG) treatment of recurrent spontaneous abortion (RSA). The effect in vitro of a commercially available intravenous immunoglobulin (IvIg) on the rate of interleukin (IL)-10 and IL-12 positive cells (Th1/Th2 balance) and on natural killer (NK) cell activity in populations of peripheral lymphocytes of healthy pregnant women and women at risk for premature pregnancy termination was studied. Primary habitual aborters as well as women showing clinical symptoms (bleeding or regular uterine contractions) of threatened premature pregnancy termination were included.

METHODS: Lymphocytes of 20 pregnant women were tested. Five different batches of an IvIg with reported immunomodulatory potential were used at a concentration of 10 mg/mL. Cytokine profiles of the lymphocytes were determined by immunocytochemistry. For testing of NK cell activity, the 4 hr single cell cytotoxicity assay was used.

RESULTS: Incubation with IgG of lymphocytes from recurrent spontaneous aborters concomitantly and significantly decreased the rate of IL-12 positive cells (P < 0.01) and increased the rate of IL-10 positive cells (P < 0.01), whereas such treatment had no significant effect on lymphocytes of pregnant women not at risk of abortion. Dialysis or heat treatment (56°C, 30 min) of the IgG preparations did not modify the effect. Elevated NK cell activity of women at risk for premature pregnancy termination significantly decreased after IgG incubation of cells in all cases, whereas NK cell activity of normal pregnancy lymphocytes was not altered.

CONCLUSION: This study suggests that incubation of peripheral lymphocytes from RSA patients with polyclonal polyspecific IgG alters cytokine profiles and NK activity while the same treatment does not affect lymphocytes of healthy pregnant women. These data might add to the understanding of mechanisms of action of IvIg in prevention of recurrent pregnancy loss.