Pregnancy is a challenge for the mother’s immune system from the start. Half of the genes of the fetus are foreign to its body.
The immune system must strike a balance between tolerating the fetus and protecting the mother and fetus against infection. Throughout pregnancy, an immunological balance is established between mother and child.
At the Molecular Inflammation Research Center (CEMIR) of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), a research group is studying inflammation during pregnancy. The group made discoveries that shed light on the behavior of the immune system during pregnancy.
Research program student Anders Hagen Jarmund and his colleagues at CEMIR are the first researchers to study the development of immune responses in women throughout pregnancy.
The study followed 707 women with normal pregnancies, who gave birth to healthy babies at term and after term.
ALSO READ: Having This Food May Help Reduce Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy
“Our immune system is regulated by cell signaling molecules called cytokines. Signaling molecules can trigger or stop immune responses. We profiled a number of different cytokines in the blood using a simple sample of the mother’s blood. several times during pregnancy have given us an imprint of the mother’s immune response, ”says Jarmund.
“Because we have so many healthy pregnant women in the study, we were able to find the ‘norm’ for immune system behavior during normal pregnancies,” he says.
The mother’s blood samples provide detailed information about the inflammatory conditions in the body, the pressure on the fetus, and the first signs of the immunological disorder.
The researchers found that immune activity in normal pregnancies follows a certain pattern, with high immune activation in the first three months, then a calmer phase the next three, and higher activity in the last three months. especially when childbirth is imminent.
Jarmund believes that studying the behavior of the immune system during normal pregnancies can be very helpful.
“Our study can serve as a benchmark for what is normal at different stages of pregnancy. By comparing the analyzes of blood samples from the pregnant woman with our survey, we can detect abnormalities very early on,” Jarmund said.
“Early detection can help the doctor assess whether the woman has an increased risk of developing disease and needs closer follow-up.”
Jarmund discovered several conditions in the mother or fetus that created abnormalities in the immune response.
“The immune changes detected with cytokine profiling are so sensitive that they capture the effects of obesity and smoking in the mother. The immune system is also affected if the fetus is stunted, and may even indicate if it is sore. ‘It’s a boy or a girl,’ Jarmond explains.
Another finding was that women who had given birth before clearly had higher immune activation early in pregnancy, but lower than first-time mothers as they approached labor. Women who passed term had particularly strong immune activation, which could indicate stress.
Live Marie T. Stokkeland is a doctoral student at the same center as Jarmund, as well as in the Women’s Health and PCOS group led by Professor Eszter Vanky. Stokkeland is studying a group of women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).
PCOS is a hormonal disorder characterized by increased levels of male hormones and blisters on the ovaries. About 17 percent of women of childbearing age are affected.
Women with PCOS often have irregular periods, being overweight, and increased hair growth on the face and body, and they often have trouble conceiving. The risks for women with PCOS during pregnancy include preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and preterm delivery.
Stokkeland analyzed blood samples from 358 women with PCOS and one sample from healthy women. She found that women with the disease have higher immune activation throughout pregnancy than healthy women, and that their immune responses developed differently during the three phases of pregnancy. Women with PCOS who smoked or were overweight showed even stronger immune activation.
Once we have mapped out the changes that characterize the various pregnancy complications, it will show us what abnormalities we need to look for in order to detect disease development as early as possible.
“We believe that overactive cytokines in pregnant women with PCOS are an adverse response that indicates stress, and which may be a contributing factor to an increased risk of complications. We hope that further research will tell us more about them. causes of unwanted responses and what can be done to prevent them, ”says Stokkeland.
Professor Ann-Charlotte Iversen, who heads the group that studies inflammation in pregnancy, says the two studies offer exciting prospects.
“A cytokine profile is a very sensitive measure of the immune system, and we now have a better understanding of the normal development of the immune system during pregnancy and how it is affected,” explains Iversen.
“Once we map the changes that characterize the various pregnancy complications, it will show us what abnormalities we need to look for in order to detect disease development as early as possible. This sensitive method will allow us to report high risk pregnancies so we can more closely follow the mother and fetus. This is our goal, ”says Iversen.
The Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine research group does not yet know whether each individual disease generates a unique “fingerprint” in the immune response. So far, analyzes have revealed an abnormal cytokine profile for PCOS and gestational hypertension (high blood pressure) in early pregnancy.
This story was posted from an agency feed with no text editing.