Circulating cytokines associated with poor pregnancy outcomes in beninese exposed to infection with plasmodium falciparum

Tatiana Hountohotegbe, Komi Gbedande, Gino Agbota, Samad Ibitokou, Achille Massougbodji, Philippe Deloron, Nadine Fievet, Adrian J.F. Luty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Malaria during pregnancy is a major cause of maternal morbidity as well as fetal and neonatal mortality. Previous studies, including our own, suggested that placental and peripheral cytokine and chemokine levels measured at delivery can be used as biomarkers for pregnancy outcomes. However, the timing of malaria infection during pregnancy matters, and these studies do not address the effect of different cytokines in peripheral blood plasma samples taken at early and midpregnancy and at delivery. Here, we aimed to investigate whether peripheral plasma cytokine levels were associated with pregnancy outcomes in a cohort of 400 Beninese pregnant women. Using a high-sensitivity cytometry-based method, we quantified the levels of interleukin-4 (IL-4), IL-5, IL-10, IL-12p70, and gamma interferon (IFN-Y) in peripheral plasma samples taken at two time points during pregnancy and at delivery in various groups of pregnant women identified with Plasmodium falciparum infection, with anemia, with preterm births, or giving birth to babies who are small for their gestational age. We found that, consistently at all time points, elevated levels of IL-10 were strongly and significantly associated with P. falciparum infection, while the levels of IFN-Y at inclusion and delivery were weakly but also significantly associated. Low levels of IL-5 at delivery were associated with a greater risk of both preterm births and small-for-gestational-age babies. The immunosuppressive effects of IL-10 likely affect the overall cytokine equilibrium during pregnancy in women harboring P. falciparum infections. Our findings highlight the peripheral signature of pregnancy outcomes and strengthen the idea of using cytokines as diagnostic or prognostic markers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00042-20
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Cytokine
  • Malaria
  • Pregnancy outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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