Problem: To determine the levels of cytokines produced upon mitogenic or antigenic stimulation of maternal peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from women with pre-eclampsia.
Method of study: PBMC from 54 women with a history of successful pregnancy and 32 women undergoing pre-eclamptic delivery were stimulated with a mitogen or with autologous placental cells or with trophoblast antigens, and the levels of cytokines released into the culture supernatants then assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Results: Significantly higher levels of the Th1 cytokines, interferon-γ, and tumor necrosis factor-α were produced by the pre-eclamptic group than by the normal pregnancy group, which on the contrary showed significantly greater production of the Th2 cytokines, interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, IL-6 and IL-10. A comparison of the ratios of Th2 to Th1 cytokines indicates a higher Th1 cytokine bias in pre-eclampsia as compared with normal pregnancy.
Conclusions: These data are suggestive of a maternal pro-inflammatory cytokine bias in pre-eclampsia.