Immune reconstitution syndrome and exacerbation of infections after pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a state of subtle immunosuppression characterized by physiologic suppression of proinflammatory host responses that are meant to promote embryonic implantation. Rapid reversal of these changes and a rebound of inflammatory responses during the postpartum period can result in quiescent or latent infection manifesting as symptomatic disease. Infections due to several microbial pathogens and noninfectious diseases with an autoimmune basis have been shown to worsen or begin during the postpartum period. Awareness that symptoms resulting from immune reconstitution can occur in any host with a rapidly changing immunologic repertoire, including women in the postpartum phase, is a critical first step in fully understanding this phenomenon. Future studies to discern the precise pathophysiologic basis of immune reconstitution, to identify pregnant women at risk, and to determine markers that may be diagnostically helpful have significant implications for optimizing treatment of these patients.
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