Problem Recent data suggest a dominant role of the innate, rather than the adaptive immune system in pregnancy-related immunoregulation. Invariant NKT (iNKT) cells represent a link between the innate and the acquired immune systems; however, little is known about how they function in pre-eclampsia. The aim of our study was to investigate the possible role of iNKT cells in the pathogenesis of pre-eclampsia.
Method of study Human peripheral blood samples were obtained from pre-eclamptic, healthy pregnant- and non-pregnant women. Freshly separated peripheral blood mononuclear cells were immediately labeled with anti-perforin-, anti-CD69-, anti-CD95-, anti-NKG2A-, anti-NKG2D-, anti-IFN-γ and anti iNKT antibodies and analyzed by flow cytometry.
Results Pre-eclamptic patients demonstrated increased CD69, perforin and IFN-γ expression, which could be explained by dysregulation of NK cell receptor expression. These Th1 polarized cells were less susceptible to apoptosis than iNKT cells from healthy pregnant women.
Conclusion Our data suggest that activated iNKT cells of pre-eclamptic women have an increased cytotoxic potential, which may be because of altered expression of NK cell inhibitory and activating receptors.