Objective: Pregnancy can influence the course of maternal asthma, but the mechanisms are presently unknown. The aim of the present study was to access maternal immune cell profiles in the presence and absence of asthma and to determine the effect of pregnancy-derived factors on epithelial cell function. Methods: Cells from the human bronchial epithelial cell line BEAS-2B were treated with plasma from pregnant or nonpregnant asthmatic and nonasthmatic subjects. Cell culture supernatants were collected after 24 h and assayed for IL-6, IL-8, eotaxin, RANTES and sICAM-1 protein using ELISA. Maternal immune cell count and peripheral blood chemotactic response to plasma from pregnant and non-pregnant asthmatic subjects were also assessed. Results: The presence of maternal asthma during pregnancy was associated with increased monocyte and neutrophil numbers, increased BEAS-2B cell production of IL-8 and sICAM-1 (P < 0.05) and increased chemotactic capacity relative to pregnant women without asthma. Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that circulating pregnancy-related factors enhance chemotactic mediators in epithelial cells in the presence of asthma. This may be one mechanism that contributes to pregnancy-induced changes in asthma.
Inflammation Research Vol. 59, Issue 5, p. 349-358