J Immunol 2002 Jul 15;169(2):1084-91
Langer-Gould A, Garren H, Slansky A, Ruiz PJ, Steinman L.
Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305.
Women with multiple sclerosis have significantly diminished disease activity during pregnancy.
The purpose of our study was to identify the underlying mechanism for the diminished disease activity.
We found that during the period of late pregnancy there is protection against paralysis, during both the induction and effector phases of relapsing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a mouse model of multiple sclerosis.
We did not find any changes in the cytokine secretion profiles or the proliferative activity of autoreactive T cells from mice induced during late pregnancy compared with virgin controls.
In mice mated after disease onset, the inflammatory histologic lesions did not clear, despite marked clinical improvement during pregnancy.
We found evidence for a serum factor present in late pregnancy that suppresses T cell activation.
In the presence of sera taken from mice late in pregnancy, the proliferative response and IL-2 production of proteolipid protein p139-151-specific T cells were significantly diminished as compared with stimulation in the presence of normal mouse sera.
In conclusion, serum from late pregnancy has the capacity to down-regulate T cell responses and might be associated with the amelioration of disease activity in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.