Preeclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy that is defined by the onset of hypertension and the signs of maternal organ dysfunctions. It usually occurs after the 20th week of gestation. While there are several factors responsible for this condition, there is evidence to prove that immunological dysfunctions may play a role in triggering the causes of preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia affects nearly 2 to 8% of pregnant women and is also one of the leading causes of maternal deaths. It is estimated that nearly 9 to 26% of maternal deaths are linked to this condition.
Preeclampsia also accounts for a significant percentage of cases of neonatal mortality and morbidity caused due to the intrauterine growth restrictions and preterm delivery. Hence, it is important to identify the immunological dysfunctions responsible for triggering the causes of preeclampsia so that the risk of maternal and neonatal mortality can be avoided.
What are the immunological causes of preeclampsia?
Altered immune response
Recent data has demonstrated that an altered response of the immune system may play a role in the development of preeclampsia. Epidemiological findings have suggested that abnormalities related to the functions of the innate and adaptive immune systems can trigger the precursors that can worsen the causes of preeclampsia. Hence, it is important to understand the pathophysiology of this condition from an immunological viewpoint.
One of the characteristic immunological findings in preeclampsia is the stimulation of both the adaptive and innate immune systems. The activated neutrophils, NK cells, and monocytes initiate inflammation in the body and induce endothelial dysfunctions. The activated T cells also prevent adequate tolerance during pregnancy.
Also, the cytokine profile in women diagnosed with preeclampsia has shown that the secretion of type 1 cytokines that cause inflammation is higher while the secretion of type 2 cytokines that regulate inflammation is reduced.
Additionally, immunoregulatory functions are down-regulated in women with preeclampsia as the persistent inflammation hampers the regulatory T cell functions. The results of this study indicate that abnormal immune-activation could be one of the causes of preeclampsia.
Innate Immune System
Normal pregnancy occurs when there is a dominant Th2 from the immunological state. It promotes an immune-tolerance environment to inhibit fetal rejection and thus, allows the pregnancy to continue.
Preeclampsia has been believed to occur due to the Th1/Th2 imbalance created as a result of the abnormal immunological state in the body.
Recent clinical research has expanded the Th1/Th2 theory into a more comprehensive regulatory T-cells and Th1/Th2/Th17 paradigm where the dendritic cells are believed to play a crucial role in triggering the development and causes of preeclampsia. Evidence has emerged indicating that the mesenchymal stem cells could also be a part of the adverse feto-maternal tolerance in women with preeclampsia.
These findings have led to the conclusion that the abnormal functions of the innate immune system need to be corrected to prevent preeclampsia.
Differential Dynamics of Immune System
Alterations in the normal immune adaptations necessary for the maintenance of a healthy pregnancy are central features of preeclampsia. Differential Dynamics of the Maternal Immune System in Healthy Pregnancy and Preeclampsia – US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
The assessment of the differential dynamics of the immune system in pregnant women is expected to provide information about the prediction of the risk of preeclampsia.
Hence, a high-dimensional mass cytometry immunoassay of women was performed to characterize the changes in more than 370 features of immune cells including functional responses and cell distribution. The immunoassay was performed in women with healthy as well as preeclamptic pregnancies.
A set of 8 cell-specific immune features could be accurately identified in women before the clinical diagnosis of this condition. This shows that a prior assessment of the differential dynamics of the immune system of pregnant women can help to predict the risk of preeclampsia.
It can also allow women and physicians to take appropriate steps to correct the underlying immunological causes of preeclampsia to prevent complications during pregnancy.
Women who are planning a pregnancy are advised to take steps to ensure the health of their immune system functions, such as by using supplements like BioPro-Plus. BioPro-Plus can help to regulate immune cells and modulate immune functions that can contribute to the causes of preeclampsia.
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