Pregnancy alters the circulating B cell compartment in atopic asthmatic women, and transitional B cells are positively associated with the development of allergy manifestations in their progeny

Am J Reprod Immunol. 2016 Dec;76(6):465-474. doi: 10.1111/aji.12595. Epub 2016 Oct 25.


Problem: Maternal atopy is a risk factor for allergy. B cells are poorly studied in reproduction and atopy. We aimed to assess how pregnancy affects B cells in atopic women and whether B cells relate to allergic manifestations in offspring.

Method of study: Women with and without atopic asthma, pregnant and non-pregnant were enrolled for the study, and circulating B cells were evaluated by flow cytometry, using CD19, CD27, CD38, IgD, and IgM.

Results: Compared to healthy non-pregnant, atopic asthmatic non-pregnant (ANP) women presented increased B cell counts, enlarged memory subsets, less transitional cells, and plasmablasts. Atopic asthmatic pregnant (AP) and healthy pregnant (HP) women showed similarities: reduced B cell counts and percentages, fewer memory cells, especially switched, and higher plasmablast percentages. Transitional B cell percentages were increased in AP women with allergic manifestations in their progeny.

Conclusion: Atopic asthmatic non-pregnant women have a distinctive B cell compartment. B cells change in pregnancy, similarly in AP and HP women. The recognition that AP women with allergy in their progeny have a typical immune profile may help, in the future, the adoption of preventive measures to avoid the manifestation of allergic diseases in their newborns.

Keywords: B lymphocytes; atopy; flow cytometry; gestation; human; risk markers.

MeSH terms

  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase 1 / genetics
  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase 1 / immunology
  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD19 / genetics
  • Antigens, CD19 / immunology
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / genetics
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Asthma / pathology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / diagnosis
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / genetics
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / immunology*
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / pathology
  • Immunoglobulin D / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Maternal Inheritance / immunology*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Pregnancy
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 7 / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 7 / immunology


  • Antigens, CD19
  • CD19 molecule, human
  • Immunoglobulin D
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 7
  • CD38 protein, human
  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase 1