In a recent study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, researchers have discovered that women with multiple sclerosis experience temporary improvements in their condition during pregnancy. This autoimmune disease affects the immune system, but the changes that naturally occur during pregnancy have been found to have a positive impact. These findings hold promise for the development of new treatments for multiple sclerosis.
Immune systems in MS patients change during pregnancy
During pregnancy, the immune system undergoes adaptations to ensure the successful development of the fetus without being rejected by the mother’s body. This phenomenon is attributed to the mother’s immune system becoming more tolerant. Although half of the fetus’s genetic material comes from the father, but the mother’s immune system does not attack it.
Researchers have been studying women with multiple sclerosis (MS) experiencing improved symptoms during pregnancy. They theorize that the temporary suppression of the immune system may be responsible for this positive effect. During the 3rd trimester, relapses, or periods of symptoms, decrease significantly by 70%. Similar improvements have been observed in other autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis during pregnancy. However, the underlying cause of this improvement has remained unclear.
In the study investigating immune cell behavior during pregnancy, researchers examined the genes expressed in T cells at different time intervals. Additionally, they explored the influence of epigenetic changes, specifically focusing on DNA methylation, which controls gene activation and deactivation. This research aimed to gain insights into the mechanisms underlying immune cell function during pregnancy.
Gene networks change during pregnancy
Researchers have discovered interconnected gene networks that change during pregnancy. The findings indicate these genes are closely associated with MS and crucial immune system functions.
Linkoping University’s Sandra Hellberg said there is a correlation between changes in T cells and the improvement of relapse in women with MS. The most significant changes in T cells occur during the final trimester, which coincides with the greatest improvement in MS symptoms. However, these changes are reversed after pregnancy, leading to a temporary increase in disease activity.