Antiretroviral therapy-associated modulation of Th1 and Th2 immune responses in HIV-infected pregnant women

Simona Fiore, Marie Louise Newell, Daria Trabattoni, Claire Thorne, Linsay Gray, Valeria Savasi, Cecilia Tibaldi, Enrico Ferrazzi, Mario Clerici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A successful pregnancy is characterised by an increase in Th2 cytokines and suppression of Th1 cytokine production. A Th1 to Th2 cytokine shift is also observed in the disease progression of HIV infection. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) suppresses HIV viremia, increases CD4+ cell counts and counteracts the Th1 to Th2 shift. We hypothesised that the increased risk of premature delivery reported in HIV-infected, HAART-treated pregnant women is mediated through changes in the cytokine environment in pregnancy. Here, we present results relating to levels of interleukin (IL)-2 (Th1) and IL-10 (Th2) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) measured three times during pregnancy in 49 HIV-infected women. Slope values representing the trend of repeated cytokine (IL-2-PHA, IL-2-Env, IL-10-PHA and IL-10-Env) measurements within women during pregnancy were estimated and median values compared by prematurity and HAART use. Multiple regression adjusted for HAART and cytokine slope clarified the additional and independent effect of HAART on prematurity risk. Results showed favourable immunomodulation induced by HAART with increased IL-2 and decreased IL-10. HAART use and IL-10-Env slopes were not significantly associated with prematurity risk, but each unit increase in IL-2-PHA slope was associated with an 8% increased risk of premature delivery (AOR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.0-1.17; p = 0.005). HAART use in pregnancy provides significant benefits in delaying HIV disease progression and reducing the risk of mother-to-child-transmission, but may be counterproductive in terms of successful pregnancy outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Reproductive Immunology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


  • Cytokines
  • HIV
  • Pre-term delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Reproductive Medicine

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