OBJECTIVE: During pregnancy the maternal immune system has to adapt its response to accommodate the fetus. The objective of this study was to analyze the effects of smoking on the maternal immune system.
STUDY DESIGN: First-trimester decidual tissue and peripheral blood of smoking and nonsmoking women were analyzed by real time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and flow cytometry. A mouse model was used to further analyze the effects of smoking. Murine tissue was analyzed by flow cytometry, real-time RT-PCR, and immunohistochemistry.
RESULTS: Smoking caused lower percentages of viable pups in mice and lower birthweights in humans. Smoking mothers, both mice and human, had more natural killer cells and inflammatory macrophages locally, whereas systemically they had lower percentages of regulatory T cells than nonsmoking controls.
CONCLUSION: Maternal smoke exposure during pregnancy influences local and systemic immune responses in both women and mice. Such changes may be involved in adverse pregnancy outcomes in smoking individuals.