Longitudinal modulation of immune system cytokine profile during pregnancy

Cytokine. 2011 Feb;53(2):170-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2010.11.005. Epub 2010 Nov 30.


Objective: To characterize immune modulation as expressed by cytokine assays at three time-points in human pregnancy.

Study design: This is a prospective, longitudinal study of a broad panel of cytokine expression during singleton pregnancies resulting in an uncomplicated, full-term, live births. Peripheral blood was obtained at 8-14, 18-22, and 28-32 weeks gestation. Six cytokines - IFN-γ, IL-4, TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-10 - were measured in supernatants obtained from whole blood stimulations with PHA or LPS and were compared to unstimulated controls. Samples were processed by Luminex-100 MAP®. We used Generalized Linear Models (GLM) to evaluate cytokine trajectories.

Results: Complete data were obtained for 45 uncomplicated pregnancies. Overall, peripheral blood WBC's demonstrated dampened cytokine responses. However, over the course of pregnancy, we found enhanced counter-regulatory cytokine expression (e.g., shown by increased IL-10).

Conclusion: The overall decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines and increase in counter-regulatory cytokines as uncomplicated pregnancy progresses supports the evolving concepts of immunoregulation for the maintenance of a viable pregnancy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immune System / immunology*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Models, Immunological
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimesters / immunology*
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Young Adult


  • Cytokines