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Variations in the leukocyte and cytokine profiles between placental and maternal circulation in pregnancy-associated malaria

Authors Okamgba OC, Ifeanyichukwu MO, Ilesanmi AO, Chigbu LN

Received 23 March 2017

Accepted for publication 13 September 2017

Published 10 January 2018 Volume 2018:9 Pages 1—8


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Thomas Unnasch

Okezie Caleb Okamgba,1 Martin O Ifeanyichukwu,1 Ayodele O Ilesanmi,2 Lawrence N Chigbu3

1Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Faculty of Health Sciences and Technology, Nnamdi Azikwe University, Nnewi Campus, Nnewi, Anambra State, 2Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Kwara State University, Malete, Kwara State, 3Department of Microbiology, College of Medicine, Abia State University, Uturu, Abia State, Nigeria

Background: Activation of immune cells by malaria infection induces the secretion of cytokines and the synthesis of other inflammatory mediators. This study compared the cytokine levels and leukocyte count between malaria-infected peripheral and placental blood of pregnant women before delivery and postpartum. The cytokines assessed include interferon gamma (IFN-γ), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-4 (IL-4), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-10 (IL-10).
Materials and methods: The subjects comprised 144 malaria-infected pregnant women and 60 malaria-infected women at post-partum stage (for placental blood collection). Others were 60 malaria-uninfected pregnant women and 40 malaria-uninfected women at postpartum stage (for placental blood collection). Forty malaria-infected and 40 malaria-uninfected nonpregnant women served as control subjects. The test groups were asymptomatic, and the control groups were apparently healthy subjects. All were aged between 17 and 44 years. Ethical approval for the study was obtained at Abia State University Teaching Hospital and Living Word Mission Hospital, Aba. Informed consent was obtained from the participants. Blood samples were aseptically collected initially from the maternal peripheral circulation and from the placenta on delivery, and tested for HIV and malaria using standard methods. IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-4, IL-6 and IL-10 were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay technique. Kruskal–Wallis test was used for comparison of the groups.
Results: IFN-γ was significantly higher in the peripheral than in placental blood (P=0.001). IL-4 and IL-10 were significantly lower in the peripheral than in placental blood (P=0.001 and P=0.004, respectively). The total leukocytes, neutrophils and lymphocyte counts were significantly higher in the placenta than in peripheral blood (P=0.001), and the mixed differential count was significantly higher in the placenta than in peripheral blood (P=0.012).
Conclusion: This study has shown that the cytokine levels and leukocyte counts may differ between the peripheral and placental blood of the same women. Therefore, measurement of parameters in the peripheral circulation may not always reflect the levels in the placental blood for the assessment of immune cellular response at the materno–fetal interface.

Keywords: malaria parasite density, cytokines, peripheral blood, placental blood, leukocyte

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