BioScience Trends. 2018;12(2):157-167. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2018.01012)

Distinct pattern of Th17/Treg cells in pregnant women with a history of unexplained recurrent spontaneous abortion.

Qian JF, Zhang N, Lin J, Wang CY, Pan XY, Chen LT, Li DJ, Wang L


The aim of the current study was to determine the pattern of immune cells and related functional molecules in peripheral blood and at the maternal-fetal interface in women with unexplained recurrent spontaneous abortion (URSA). In part I, 155 women were included and divided into four groups: non-pregnant controls with no history of URSA (NPCs), pregnant controls with no history of URSA (PCs), non-pregnant women with a history of URSA (NPUs), and pregnant women with a history of URSA (PUs). Venous blood samples were collected and analyzed. In part II, 35 subjects with URSA and 40 subjects in the early stage of normal pregnancy who chose to undergo an abortion were recruited. Samples of the decidua were collected, and the proportion of immune cells and the expression of related molecules were evaluated. Peripheral regulatory T cells (Treg cells) increased in PCs compared to NPCs, but in women with URSA the flux of Treg cells disappeared when pregnancy occurred. Levels of interleukin-10 (IL-10), cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4), and IL-17 and the ratio of Th17/Treg cells in peripheral blood remained stable among the four groups. At the maternal-fetal interface, the percentage of Treg cells, the level of CTLA-4 of CD4+CD25+CD127lo cells and CD4+Foxp3+ cells were significantly lower in women with URSA compared to controls, respectively. Levels of transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) mRNA and protein in the decidua significantly decreased in URSA while levels of IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor-ɑ (TNF-ɑ) and the Th17/ Treg ratio significantly increased. In conclusion, peripheral Treg cells did not increase in pregnant women with URSA. The decrease in Treg cells and levels of CTLA-4 and TGF-β1 and as well as the increase in levels of IL-6 and TNF-ɑ, and the Th17/Treg ratio at the maternal-fetal interface might contribute to inappropriate maternal-fetal immune tolerance in URSA.

KEYWORDS: Treg cells, Th17 cells, unexplained recurrent spontaneous abortion, cytokine, maternal-fetal tolerance

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