PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Immunology - Infectious Diseases - Obstetrics - Physiology - Women's Health

Dynamics of Regulatory T-Cells during Pregnancy: Effect of HIV Infection and Correlations with Other Immune Parameters
Published: Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Author: Kelly Richardson et al.

by Kelly Richardson, Adriana Weinberg


Regulatory T cells (Treg) increase in the context of HIV infection and pregnancy. We studied Treg subpopulations in HIV-infected and uninfected women during pregnancy and their relationship with inflammation, activation and cell-mediated immunity (CMI).

Design and Methods

Blood obtained from 20 HIV-infected and 18 uninfected women during early and late gestation was used to measure Treg and activated T cells (Tact) by flow cytometry; plasma cytokines and inflammatory markers by ELISA and chemoluminescence; and CMI against varicella-zoster virus (VZV) by lymphocyte proliferation.

Results and Conclusions

Compared with uninfected women, HIV-infected participants had higher frequencies of Treg subpopulations in early pregnancy, including CD4+CD25+FoxP3+%, CD8+CD25+FoxP3+%, CD4+TGFß+% and CD4+IL10+%. In contrast, Treg frequencies were lower during late pregnancy in HIV-infected compared with uninfected women, including CD8+TGFß+%, CD4+CTLA4+% and CD8+CTLA4+%. VZV-CMI, which was lower in HIV-infected compared with uninfected pregnant women, was inversely correlated with CD4+FoxP3+%, CD8+FoxP3+% and CD8+TGFß+% in HIV-infected, but not in uninfected pregnant women. ß2-microglobulin, neopterin, IL1, IL4, IL8, IL10, IFN? and TNFa plasma concentrations as well as Tact were higher in HIV-infected compared with uninfected women throughout pregnancy. In HIV-infected, but not in uninfected women, inflammatory, Th1, Th2 and regulatory cytokines increased with higher Treg%, suggesting that inflammation and regulation have a common pathophysiologic origin in the context of HIV infection. In HIV-infected and more commonly in uninfected pregnant women, higher Treg% correlated with lower Tact%. We conclude that Treg have different dynamics during pregnancy in HIV-infected and uninfected women. Higher levels of inflammatory cytokines and lower Treg% during late pregnancy in HIV-infected women may contribute to their increased incidence of maternal-fetal morbidity.