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Biomarkers. 1997;2(6):361-6. doi: 10.1080/135475097231454.

Effects of labour and medication on major lymphocyte subsets in cord.


It is envisaged that flow cytometric analysis of lymphocyte subsets in cord blood may be used as a biomarker for effects on the immune system of exposure to environmental factors. In order to investigate the possible application of this parameter, we first studied the effects of other factors that may influence the outcome of subset analysis in cord blood. FACS analysis was performed in 112 pairs of umbilical cord blood and of peripheral maternal blood sampled at labour. Whereas in maternal blood no statistically significant effects of medication during labour on T lymphocyte numbers and NK cells were found, in oxytocin and in oxytocin and prostaglandin treated mothers B cell numbers showed a statistically significant increase. In cord blood, the course of labour and or medication during labour were identified as the most important factors determining distribution of major lymphocyte subsets. In cord blood after deliveries without medication or after neuroplegic analgesia NPA, the mean percentage of cord blood T lymphocytes CD3 was highest 59 and that of NK lymphocytes CD3- CD16 56 lowest 20 . The mean percentage of T lymphocytes was significantly lower 52 and that of NK lymphocytes higher 28 in cord blood where deliveries were done under NPA in combination with infusion of oxytocin. The combination of NPA with oxytocin and induction of labour by prostaglandin E2 led to a further reduction of T lymphocytes and an increase of NK cells 39 and 38 respectively. The changes in ratio of T and NK lymphocytes were due both to decreasing absolute counts of T lymphocytes and increasing counts of NK lymphocytes. Thus, the effects of labour and or medication during labour must be taken into account when this parameter is applied as a potential biomarker of effects of environmental factors on the immune system.


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