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Evidence for a selective migration of fetus-specific CD4+CD25bright regulatory T cells from the peripheral blood to the decidua in human pregnancy.

Department of Immunohematology and Blood Transfusion, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands.
The Journal of Immunology (Impact Factor: 5.36). 05/2008; 180(8):5737-45. DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.180.8.5737
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT During pregnancy, the maternal immune system has to tolerate the persistence of fetal alloantigens. Many mechanisms contribute to the prevention of a destructive immune response mediated by maternal alloreactive lymphocytes directed against the allogeneic fetus. Murine studies suggest that CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells provide mechanisms of specific immune tolerance to fetal alloantigens during pregnancy. Previous studies by our group demonstrate that a significantly higher percentage of activated T cells and CD4(+)CD25(bright) T cells are present in decidual tissue in comparison with maternal peripheral blood in human pregnancy. In this study, we examined the phenotypic and functional properties of CD4(+)CD25(bright) T cells derived from maternal peripheral blood and decidual tissue. Depletion of CD4(+)CD25(bright) T cells from maternal peripheral blood demonstrates regulation to third party umbilical cord blood cells comparable to nonpregnant controls, whereas the suppressive capacity to umbilical cord blood cells of her own child is absent. Furthermore, maternal peripheral blood shows a reduced percentage of CD4(+)CD25(bright)FOXP3(+) and CD4(+)CD25(bright)HLA-DR(+) cells compared with peripheral blood of nonpregnant controls. In contrast, decidual lymphocyte isolates contain high percentages of CD4(+)CD25(bright) T cells with a regulatory phenotype that is able to down-regulate fetus-specific and fetus-nonspecific immune responses. These data suggest a preferential recruitment of fetus-specific regulatory T cells from maternal peripheral blood to the fetal-maternal interface, where they may contribute to the local regulation of fetus-specific responses.

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    ABSTRACT: Pregnancy triggers immunological changes aimed to tolerate the fetus. However, it has not been properly addressed whether similar changes occur in tropical areas with high infection pressure and whether these changes render women more susceptible to infectious diseases. We compared the frequencies of T cell subsets, including regulatory T cells, in pregnant and nonpregnant women from Papua New Guinea, a high malaria transmission area, and from Spain, a malaria-free country. We also assessed the relationship among these cellular subsets, malaria infection, and delivery outcomes. CD4(+)FOXP3(+)CD127(low) T cells (Tregs) were decreased in pregnant women in both countries but were not associated with malaria infection or poor delivery outcomes. An expansion of IFN-γ-producing cells and intracytoplasmic IFN-γ levels was found in pregnant compared with nonpregnant women only in Papua New Guinea. Increased CD4(+)IL-10(+)IFN-γ(+) frequencies and Treg-IFN-γ production were found in women with current Plasmodium falciparum infection. Higher CD4(+)IL-10(-)IFN-γ(+) T cells frequencies and production of proinflammatory cytokines (including TNF and IL-2) at recruitment (first antenatal visit) had a protective association with birth weight and future (delivery) P. falciparum infection, respectively. Higher intracellular IL-10 levels in T cells had a protective association with future P. falciparum infection and hemoglobin levels at delivery. The protective associations were found also with nonmalaria-specific T cell responses. Treg frequencies positively correlated with plasma eotaxin concentrations, but this subset did not express eotaxin receptor CCR3. Thus, an activated immune system during pregnancy might contribute to protection against malaria during pregnancy and poor delivery outcomes. Copyright © 2015 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.

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