Pregnant individuals of many species, including humans, are more sensitive to various bacteria or their products as compared with non-pregnant individuals. Pregnant individuals also respond differently to different bacteria or their products. Therefore, in the present study, we evaluated whether the increased sensitivity of pregnant women to bacterial products and their heterogeneous response to different bacteria was associated with differences in whole blood cytokine production upon stimulation with bacteria or their products.
Blood samples were taken from healthy pregnant and age-matched non-pregnant women and ex vivo stimulated with bacteria or LPS from Porphyromonas Gingivalis (Pg) or E-coli for 24 hrs. TNFα, IL-1ß, IL-6, IL-12 and IL-10 were measured using a multiplex Luminex system.
We observed a generally lower cytokine production after stimulation with Pg bacteria or it’s LPS as compared with E-coli bacteria. However, there was also an effect of pregnancy upon cytokine production: in pregnant women the production of IL-6 upon Pg stimulation was decreased as compared with non-pregnant women. After stimulation with E-coli, the production of IL-12 and TNFα was decreased in pregnant women as compared with non-pregnant women.
Our results showed that cytokine production upon bacterial stimulation of whole blood differed between pregnant and non-pregnant women, showing that the increased sensitivity of pregnant women may be due to differences in cytokine production. Moreover, pregnancy also affected whole blood cytokine production upon Pg or E-coli stimulation differently. Thus, the different responses of pregnant women to different bacteria or their products may result from variations in cytokine production.