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Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2001;52(4):232-6.

Pregnancy-associated changes in peripheral blood lymphocyte subpopulations in normal Kuwaiti women.

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Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences and Nursing, Kuwait University, Sulaibekhat, Kuwait.


It has recently been reported that healthy pregnancy is associated with systemic immunosuppression. The aim of this study was to evaluate the numbers and distribution of lymphocyte subpopulations in normal, healthy pregnant Kuwaiti women. Thirty-four healthy normotensive women in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy were studied using flow cytometry to define lymphocyte subpopulations and were compared with 16 non-pregnant women. A decrease in the absolute numbers of lymphocytes was observed affecting T cells (CD3+, CD4+, CD8+), B cells (CD19+), and natural killer cells (CD16+/CD56+). When analyzed as a percentage of the total lymphocyte population, there was a significant decrease in B cells and an increase in CD4+ T cells. The T cell population revealed increased expression of CD25 on CD4+ and CD8+ cells, of HLA-DR on CD8+ cells, and of CD54 on CD4+ T cells. The reduced number of lymphocytes suggests that Kuwaiti females may be immunosuppressed in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. The presence of activated CD4+ T cells could indicate the expression of a regulatory suppressor T cell population, as Treg cells are CD4+CD25+, and suppressor T cells are thought to be CD8+. Future work is required to explore the significance of these T cell populations in pregnancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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