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Mol Aspects Med. 2007 Apr;28(2):192-209. Epub 2007 Mar 4.

The role of the immune system in preeclampsia.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Toyama, 2630 Sugitani, Toyama 930-0194, Japan.


Recent data demonstrate that an altered immune response may play a key role in the development of preeclampsia. Some epidemiological findings and animal models support this idea. In this article, we review the innate immune system and adaptive immune system in preeclampsia and discuss the pathophysiology of preeclampsia from an immunological viewpoint. The most characteristic immunological finding in preeclampsia is the activation of both the innate and adaptive immune system. Activated neutrophils, monocytes, and NK cells initiate inflammation which induce endothelial dysfunction, and activated T cells may support inadequate tolerance during pregnancy. The cytokine profile in preeclampsia shows that the production of type 1 cytokines, which induce inflammation, is dominant while the production of type 2 cytokines, which regulates inflammation, is suppressed. Furthermore, the immunoregulatory system is down-regulated in preeclampsia and persistent inflammation reduces regulatory T cell function. Therefore, systematical immunoactivation may be one cause of preeclampsia.

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