Lack of activation of peripheral blood dendritic cells in human pregnancies complicated by intrauterine growth restriction

M. Cappelletti, S. Giannelli, A. Martinelli, I. Cetin, E. Colombo, F. Calcaterra, D. Mavilio, S. Della Bella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The state of activation of dendritic cells (DCs) at the feto-maternal interface critically contributes to optimal decidual immune responses needed to support fetal-placental development. We recently demonstrated that during healthy pregnancy also peripheral blood DCs (PBDCs), which are easily accessible, are activated as well. In this study, to investigate a possible involvement of DCs in intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), we evaluated whether PBDCs in pregnancy complicated by IUGR may be altered compared with PBDCs in healthy pregnancy. Methods: PBDCs from 12 pregnant women with primary IUGR, 21 healthy pregnant and 19 nonpregnant women were analyzed by flow cytometric analysis of whole-blood samples collected at a single time point. Results: The number of plasmacytoid PBDCs was significantly reduced in women with IUGR pregnancy. Myeloid and plasmacytoid PBDCs in IUGR lacked the state of activation (assessed as CD80, CD86, CD40 expression) and the shift to a proinflammatory pattern of cytokine production occurring during healthy pregnancy. Discussion: To our knowledge, this is the first study investigating the state of PBDC activation in IUGR pregnancy. Our results are in accordance with a previous study reporting a lower expression of activation and maturation markers by decidual DCs in IUGR placentas. Conclusions: The reduced activation of PBDCs in IUGR pregnancy may possibly reflect a reduced activation of decidual DCs. If confirmed at the feto-maternal interface, the alterations of DCs described in IUGR pregnancy have the potential to negatively impact on vascular development during gestation. These observations may therefore broaden our understanding of IUGR pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-41
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • Costimulatory molecules
  • Cytokines
  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Peripheral blood dendritic cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Developmental Biology


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