September 24, 2011

Physiological Immunosuppression in Pregnancy

Diclaimer: This is not written by blog author but rather taken from:  Lilla Tamasi, Ildiko´ Horvath, Aniko Bohacs et al, " Asthma in pregnancy e Immunological changes and clinical management", Respiratory Medicine (2011) 105, 159-164, Elsevier. This note is not for the commercial use and mainly for educational purposes.

Pregnancy is characterized by a physiological immunosuppression, an immunological tolerance that protects the fetus from maternal immune response against paternal antigens expressed by the fetus.  

Physiological pregnancy has been described as a Th2-dominated state, and current studies show that a trimester dependent, pregnancy-induced increase in regulatory T cell (Tregs) number has a key role in the maintenance of maternal tolerance to paternal antigens during pregnancy, exerting an inhibition on the activation of effector T lymphocytes and NK cells.

Diminished numbers of Tregs in pregnancy were associated with immunological rejection of the fetus as well as preeclampsia and low fetal birth weight.

Of note, Tregs exert inhibitory effects on natural killer lymphocytes responsible for protection against viruses that may contribute to increased susceptibility to viral infections (e.g. influenza) during pregnancy.

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