Background Pregnancy induces a modulation of the maternal immune system in order to install tolerance towards the semiallogeneic fetus. This change of the maternal immune systems influences some autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in a positive way. Our previous study showed that genes of the adipocytokine pathway were differently regulated by pregnancy as well as by RA. The objective of this study was to analyse the association between pregnancy induced improvement of RA and changes of adipocytokine levels.
Material and Methods Adiponectin and resistin levels were measured in sera of pregnant (n = 29) and non-pregnant (n = 24) RA patients as well as in pregnant (n = 26) and non-pregnant (n = 9) healthy controls by ELISA. Pregnant RA patients were analysed before conception, once at each trimester and 8 weeks postpartum. Disease activity was measured by CRP and DAS28-CRP.
Results Resistin levels were higher in non-pregnant RA patients than in healthy controls. Resistin levels increased during pregnancy and decreased postpartum in both healthy subjects and RA patients. However, RA patients with active disease during pregnancy showed higher resistin levels at the third trimester than healthy women. There was a positive correlation between resistin levels and CRP.
Adiponektin levels increased at the second trimester of pregnancy and decreased thereafter in both healthy subject and RA patients. There was no difference between patients and healthy subjects. Adiponektin levels of RA patients negatively correlated with CRP.
Conclusion Pregnancy induces an increase of both the resistin and the adiponectin levels. Resistin levels are further influenced by active disease. By contrast, the increase of the adiponectin levels at the second trimester might play a role in the modulation of disease activity of RA.