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High Levels of Maternal Serum IL-17 and Activin A in Pregnant Women Affected by Systemic Lupus Erythematosus


Felice Petraglia, Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Department of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Reproductive Medicine, University of Siena, ‘S. Maria alle Scotte’, viale Bracci 53100 Siena, Italy.


Torricelli M, Bellisai F, Novembri R, Galeazzi LR, Iuliano A, Voltolini C, Spreafico A, Galeazzi M, Petraglia F. High levels of maternal serum IL-17 and activin A in pregnant women affected by systemic lupus erythematosus. Am J Reprod Immunol 2011; 66: 84–89

Problem  To evaluate changes of serum IL-17, activin A, follistatin, and other cytokines during pregnancy in women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Method of study  A group of patients with SLE and controls were longitudinally studied, collecting a blood sample before and during three trimesters of pregnancy. Serum activin A, follistatin, IL-17, IL-6, IL-10, and TNF-α concentrations were evaluated by specific ELISA.

Results  Before pregnancy, while serum IL-17, IL-6, IL-10, and TNF-α resulted significantly higher in women with SLE (P < 0.001), activin A and follistatin were not changed. Serum IL-17 concentrations were higher in SLE than in controls with no changes during pregnancy. IL-6 increased in both groups, resulting higher in SLE than in controls only in the first trimester (P < 0.05). IL-10 concentration in SLE increased during pregnancy resulting significantly higher than in controls (P < 0.01). TNF-α levels were higher in SLE than in controls in third trimester (P < 0.01). Serum activin A levels in SLE were significantly higher than in controls (P < 0.001) at third trimester.

Conclusion  Women with SLE show increased secretions of activin A, IL-17, IL-6, IL-10, and TNF-α during gestation, with a different trend for the various cytokines. These data suggest that patients with SLE have a hyper-reactive immune system, probably receiving a placental contribution.