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J Immunol. 1994 Mar 1;152(5):2411-20.

Differential cytokine expression in maternal blood and placenta during murine gestation.

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  • 1Unité de Biologie Moléculaire du Gène, U.277 INSERM, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


To evaluate the influence of gestation on peripheral blood T cells, we measured the mRNA production of several cytokines (IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, IFN-gamma) and the p55 subunit of IL-2R at different time points in the blood of pregnant mice and in the placenta. This was made possible by the use of a new PCR technique that is precise and quantitative. Our results show that pregnancy induces profound changes in the expression of these genes in peripheral blood cells. During the first week of gestation, there is an increase in the levels of all the cytokines, followed by a state of immunodepression characterized by levels of cytokines below normal (nonpregnant mice). In the placenta low levels of IL-2 and IL-10 are detected. IFN-gamma mRNA production is higher than the blood IFN-gamma mRNA in the last week of pregnancy. However, the main difference is found for IL-4 mRNA expression where the placenta levels are 5- to 10-fold higher than the blood mRNA expression. We discuss these results in the context of the placenta as a privileged immune site, where IL-4, being the main cytokine, may play a major regulatory role.

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