Association between cytokine profile and transcription factors produced by T-cell subsets in early- and late-onset pre-eclampsia
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Pre-eclampsia (PE) is an obstetric pathology characterized by abnormal activation of the innate and adaptive immune systems dependent on the imbalance of T helper subsets. The present study aimed to evaluate the gene and protein expression of T helper type 1 (Th1)/Th2/Th17/regulatory T (Treg) cell transcription factors in peripheral blood lymphocytes from pregnant women with PE employing quantitative RT-PCR and flow cytometry techniques, as well as the cytokine profile produced by these CD4+ T-cell subsets in the plasma of pregnant women with PE, classified as early-onset PE (n = 20), late-onset PE (n = 20) and normotensive pregnant women (n = 20). Results showed a higher percentage of CD4+ T cells expressing the RORc transcription factor (Th17) and a lower percentage of cells expressing FoxP3 (Treg) in women with early-onset PE compared with late-onset PE and normotensive groups. A lower gene expression of GATA-3 transcription factor was detected in cells of women with early-onset PE compared with the late-onset PE group. Endogenous plasma levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-17 and tumour necrosis factor-α were significantly higher in the early-onset PE group than in the late-onset PE and normotensive groups, whereas IL-4 (Th2 profile) and IL-22 (Th17 profile), were not significantly different between the studied groups. The endogenous levels of transforming growth factor-β and IL-10 were significantly lower in the pre-eclamptic than in the normotensive groups of the same gestational age, with a significant difference between early- and late-onset PE. The results show that in women with PE there is an imbalance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory profiles in CD4+ T-cell subsets, with polarization to Th17 profiles in the early-onset PE, considered as the severe form of PE.
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