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The immune status of women changes during and after pregnancy, differs between blood compartments at delivery and is affected by environmental factors particularly in tropical areas endemic for multiple infections. We quantified the plasma concentration of a set of thirty-one T1, T2, T17 and regulatory cytokines, pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, and growth factors (altogether biomarkers), in a cohort of 540 pregnant women from five malaria-endemic tropical countries. Samples were collected at recruitment (first antenatal visit), delivery (periphery, cord and placenta) and postpartum, allowing a longitudinal analysis. We found the lowest concentration of biomarkers at recruitment and the highest at postpartum, with few exceptions. Among them, IL-6, HGF and TGF-β had the highest levels at delivery, and even higher concentrations in the placenta compared to peripheral blood. Placental concentrations were generally higher than peripheral, except for eotaxin that was lower. We also compared plasma biomarker concentrations between the tropical cohort and a control group from Spain at delivery, presenting overall higher biomarker levels the tropical cohort, particularly pro-inflammatory cytokines and growth factors. Only IL-6 presented lower levels in the tropical group. Moreover, a principal component analysis of biomarker concentrations at delivery showed that women from Spain grouped more homogenously, and that IL-6 and IL-8 clustered together in the tropical cohort but not in the Spanish one. Plasma cytokine concentrations correlated with Plasmodium antibody levels at postpartum but not during pregnancy. This basal profiling of immune mediators over gestation and in different compartments at delivery is important to subsequently understand response to infections and clinical outcomes in mothers and infants in tropical areas.
This article was published in the following journal.
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