Problem Preeclampsia, a pregnancy disorder, is associated with exaggerated inflammation and increased serum monokines. Uterine natural killer (NK) cells are implicated in preeclampsia pathology, but little is known regarding peripheral NK cells in the disease.
Method of Study We examined blood NK cells at delivery in women with preeclampsia, in healthy pregnant women and in healthy non-pregnant blood donors as a reference.
Results Although the percentages of both NKG2A- and NKG2C-positive NK cells were normal in preeclamptic women, the levels of NKG2A and NKG2C on NK cells were significantly up-regulated in these women. In vitro stimulation of PBMCs from healthy pregnant women and blood donors with monokines resulted in increased percentage of NKG2A+ NK cells and increased NKG2A levels, while levels of NKG2C were decreased.
Conclusions Our results suggest that the peripheral NK-cell pool is skewed in preeclampsia and possibly under the influence of monokines like interleukin (IL)-15 and IL-12.