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This paper considers both monocytes and peripheral blood lymphocytes as potential targets for maternal immunological modulation in pregnancy. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from non-pregnant and normal pregnant donors were stimulated in vitro, and cytokine production detected intracellularly by flow cytometry. It was found that monocyte production of TNF-alpha was unaltered in pregnancy, while production of IL-12 was significantly enhanced. In contrast, production of the Th1 type cytokine IFN-gamma was suppressed in the lymphocyte subsets: CD4+ T helper cells and CD56+ NK cells. Production of the Th2 type cytokine IL-4 in CD4+ cells was not significantly altered in pregnancy. These data suggest that the concept that pregnancy is a 'Th2 phenomenon' cannot be generalized to the function of all aspects of maternal cellular immunity as, paradoxically, circulating monocytes are 'primed' to produce the Th1 cytokine IL-12. Furthermore, these data support the hypothesis that components of maternal innate immunity are activated in normal pregnancy.


Journal article


Clin Exp Immunol

Publication Date





490 - 497


Adult, Cells, Cultured, Female, Flow Cytometry, Humans, Interferon-gamma, Interleukin-12, Lymphocyte Activation, Middle Aged, Monocytes, Pregnancy, T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer, Th1 Cells, Th2 Cells, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha