Gergely Toldi1, Florentina Sava1, Júlia Hajdú1, Ágnes Harmath1, János Rigó Jr1, Tivadar Tulassay2, Barna Vásárhelyi3
1 First Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Semmelweis University, Budapest
2 First Department of Pediatrics, Semmelweis University, Budapest
3 Department of Laboratory Medicine, Semmelweis University, Budapest
Preeclampsia (PE) is characterized by a systemic maternal inflammatory response and reduced immune tolerance towards the developing fetus. Yet, little is known about the impact of maternal PE on the fetal and neonatal immune system.
We investigated the prevalence of distinct immune cell subsets along with plasma cortisol and cytokine levels in preterm newborns of PE mothers during the first week of life and compared them to preterm neonates born from pregnancies not complicated by PE.
Cord blood and peripheral blood samples on the 1st, 3rd, and 7th postnatal (PN) days of life were collected from 14 preterm infants affected by PE and 14 non-PE pregnancies. We measured plasma cortisol and cytokine levels with immunoassays and also assessed the prevalence of T, NK and dendritic cell (DC) subsets and activation markers using flow cytometry.
The prevalence of CD4+ T lymphocytes and CD4+HLA-DR+ T cells was significantly lower in preterm infants of PE mothers on PN day 3 compared to controls. The prevalence of memory T cells was significantly higher in PE on PN day 7. The prevalence of CD8+CXCR3+ cells was significantly lower in PE on PN days 1 and 7. CD8+CD69+ T lymphocytes had a lower prevalence on PN days 0 and 1 in preterm neonates born to PE mothers. Myeloid DCs had a lower prevalence on PN days 1 and 3 in PE neonates.
MCP-1 and IL-4 had significantly higher levels on all 3 postnatal days in neonates of PE mothers, while cytokine levels were generally lower at birth compared to controls. Cortisol levels were lower in PE neonates on day 1 and 7, respectively.
Our observations show that PE pregnancies are associated with altered newborn immune status during the first week of life as represented by altered immune phenotype and plasma cytokine and cortisol levels.
ÚNKP award winner (postdoctoral)