Interleukin-10: a multi-faceted agent of pregnancy

Am J Reprod Immunol. 2010 Jun;63(6):482-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0897.2010.00810.x. Epub 2010 Feb 16.


It is widely accepted that pregnancy constitutes a unique developmental event. Unprecedented intrauterine actions of angiogenesis, immunity, and neuroendocrine regulation are juxtaposed to mechanisms of senescence that enable fetal growth and protection. The suppressive and regulatory factors that facilitate healthy pregnancy are under investigation. In non-pregnant systems of infection and inflammation, the cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) has been widely investigated because of its potential as a key immunosuppressant in response to a multitude of inflammatory events. In the context of pregnancy, IL-10 levels increase markedly in women during early pregnancy and remain elevated well into the third trimester immediately prior to onset of labor. The role of IL-10 during pregnancy as a suppressor of active maternal immunity to allow acceptance of the fetal allograft has been a point of study. Moreover, secretion of IL-10 by a diverse set of maternal and fetal cells has proven to aid in the orchestration of normal processes of pregnancy. Interestingly, some of the more profound findings regarding the actions of IL-10 during pregnancy have manifested from research that focuses on aberrant pregnancy outcomes as a result of inflammation, hormonal imbalances, or gene-environment interactions. This review focuses on the role of IL-10 as a facilitator of successful pregnancy both as an immune suppressive agent and a mediator of cross talk between the placenta and the decidua. Importantly, we discuss investigations on adverse pregnancy conditions to further elucidate the multifarious role of IL-10 at the maternal-fetal interface.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Decidua / immunology
  • Decidua / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-10 / immunology
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Placenta / immunology
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy / immunology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome


  • Interleukin-10