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Preeclampsia (PE) is a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy which is a leading cause of maternal and foetal morbidity and mortality. Furthermore, HIV/Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Treatment has been associated with the increased risk of preeclampsia due to maternal immune reconstitution, which complicates the clinical diagnosis of PE in these patients. It is therefore necessary to identify biomarkers involved in the pathology of both disorders with the intent to diagnose. Exosomal cytokines represent ideal biomarkers of PE and inflammatory conditions due to their immunomodulatory role in pregnancy. We therefore quantified exosomal Th1 (IL-2 and TNF-α) and Th2 cytokines (IL-10) in maternal circulation. A significant dysregulation in total exosomes, placental-derived exosomes and exosomal cytokines in PE and HIV-positive PE pregnant woman on Highly Active Antiretroviral Treatment (HAART) was observed (p < 0.01). Additionally, we observed a significant shift towards Th1 immunity in PE which becomes amplified in HIV-positive PE pregnant woman on HAART (p < 0.01). Moreover, we show the potential application of exosomal Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) as a biomarker of PE and PE in HIV-positive pregnant women on HAART (CI: 95%, LHR > 10, sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 90%). These findings are in support of exosome release and exosome cytokine encapsulation as a tightly regulated process in favour of maintaining the immune microenvironment, which can orchestrate either normal pregnancy, or the pathogenesis of preeclampsia and preeclampsia in HIV/HAART pregnancies.

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Journal article



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Exosomes, HAART, HIV, IL-10, IL-2, TNF-α