Background The appropriate balance between anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory cytokines is necessary for protection against pregnancy-associated malaria and poor pregnancy outcomes. This study therefore aims to investigate the relationship between plasma levels of some regulatory cytokines and P. falciparum infection in Cameroonian women during pregnancy.
Methods Peripheral blood was collected from 131 women during pregnancy and 27 non-pregnant women living in the Mbalmayo area between May and December 2014. Parasitaemia was determined by microscopy and haemoglobin level using a haematological counter. Plasma levels of IL-27 and IL-6 cytokines were measured using the Magnetic Luminex Screening Assay technique.
Results Parasitaemia associated negatively with haemoglobin level (rs=–0.43; p<0.001). The plasma level of IL-6 was higher in pregnant women than in non-pregnant women (p=0.05). Regarding parasitaemia, plasma level of IL-27 was significantly higher in non-infected than in infected women (p=0.028) while that of IL-6 was significantly higher in infected women (p<0.0001). Moreover, parasitaemia correlated negatively with the plasma level of IL-27 (p=0.034) and positively with that of IL-6 (p<0.0001). In addition, level of IL-6 was significantly higher in anaemia-positive than in anaemia-negative women (p=0.028). On the other hand, level of IL-27 negatively associated with the parity (p=0.022) and gestation age (p=0.014).
Conclusion These results show that in pregnant women, P. falciparum malaria infection is associated with high plasma level of IL-6 and low level of IL-27, suggesting that IL-27 could have a protective effect against pregnancy-associated malaria while IL-6 seem to be a potential biomarker of the disease.
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