Substance in the blood of pregnant women fights pathological immune reaction

February 10, 2021

A team of scientists from Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University with their colleagues from the Institute of Ecology and Genetics of Microorganisms of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Perm) studied the effect of trophoblastic β1-glycoprotein in the blood of pregnant women on pro-inflammatory immune cells. Thanks to trophoblastic β1-glycoprotein, a woman's body does not adversely react to the fetus and supports its normal development until birth. It turned out that trophoblastic β1-glycoproteins also suppressed the development of pro-inflammatory lymphocytes and reduced their activity. The results of the work could be used to develop medicinal drugs for pregnancy maintenance and treatment of various autoimmune diseases.

For a pregnant woman's body, a fetus is a source of antigens. However, there is a natural protection mechanism that prevents a mother's immune system from fighting the fetus and helps it adapt to it. This happens thanks to a fine balance between the pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory components, namely the Th17 and Treg populations of lymphocytes, respectively. Th17 lymphocytes belong to the group of helpers that support other immune cells and are identified by the presence of the CD4 receptor. On the contrary, Treg lymphocytes suppress the activity of the immune system. Treg cells prevail in the normal course of pregnancy and in case of any issues, the count of Th17 begins to grow.

"An increased share of Th17 is associated with preeclampsia, a condition of pregnant women that causes high blood pressure, edema, and protein in the urine and in severe cases may lead to multi-organ failure. Also, high Th17 can be the reason for preterm delivery, miscarriage, or repeated pregnancy loss of unknown etiology. Even when the course of pregnancy is relatively normal, increased Th17 levels can interfere with the development of a baby's nervous system and lead to higher risks of neuropsychic disorders," explained Larisa Litvinova, the Head of the Center for Immunology and Cellular Biotechnology, BFU.

Th17 immune regulation disorders are the cause of autoimmune diseases such as asthma, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease (chronic intestine inflammation), multiple sclerosis, and many others. However, these diseases can go into the remission stage in pregnant women. The team concluded that the bodies of pregnant women must produce some active substances to fight the inflammation caused not only by the presence of a fetus but also by an actual disease.

These substances are known as β1-glycoproteins, special protein-carbohydrate molecules that regulate congenital and adaptive (or acquired) immunity. The authors of the work tested the effect of these compounds on CD4+ lymphocytes with the specific receptor. To do so, the team took samples of venous blood from healthy 21-39 years old pregnant women. After that, immune cells were separated from the blood and cultivated together with trophoblastic β1-glycoproteins. The method of its preparation was patented at the Institute of Ecology and Genetics of Microorganisms, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

It turned out that trophoblastic β1-glycoproteins suppressed the division of CD4+ lymphocytes and the production of cytokines by them. Cytokines are small peptide molecules that act as signal agents in cases of inflammation. Based on these results, the authors suggested using medicinal drugs with trophoblastic β1-glycoproteins against pregnancy complications to save the lives and health of both mothers and children.
-end-
The work was carried out in association with the Institute of Ecology and Genetics of Microorganisms, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University

Related Immune System Articles from Brightsurf:

How the immune system remembers viruses
For a person to acquire immunity to a disease, T cells must develop into memory cells after contact with the pathogen.

How does the immune system develop in the first days of life?
Researchers highlight the anti-inflammatory response taking place after birth and designed to shield the newborn from infection.

Memory training for the immune system
The immune system will memorize the pathogen after an infection and can therefore react promptly after reinfection with the same pathogen.

Immune system may have another job -- combatting depression
An inflammatory autoimmune response within the central nervous system similar to one linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) has also been found in the spinal fluid of healthy people, according to a new Yale-led study comparing immune system cells in the spinal fluid of MS patients and healthy subjects.

COVID-19: Immune system derails
Contrary to what has been generally assumed so far, a severe course of COVID-19 does not solely result in a strong immune reaction - rather, the immune response is caught in a continuous loop of activation and inhibition.

Immune cell steroids help tumours suppress the immune system, offering new drug targets
Tumours found to evade the immune system by telling immune cells to produce immunosuppressive steroids.

Immune system -- Knocked off balance
Instead of protecting us, the immune system can sometimes go awry, as in the case of autoimmune diseases and allergies.

Too much salt weakens the immune system
A high-salt diet is not only bad for one's blood pressure, but also for the immune system.

Parkinson's and the immune system
Mutations in the Parkin gene are a common cause of hereditary forms of Parkinson's disease.

How an immune system regulator shifts the balance of immune cells
Researchers have provided new insight on the role of cyclic AMP (cAMP) in regulating the immune response.

Read More: Immune System News and Immune System Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.