Pregnancy seems to turn off various forms of autoimmune disease at least temporarily. Weeks or months after delivery the disease usually returns. Lots of research is ongoing to figure out what turns off the autoimmune disease in pregnant women and how to duplicate it as a therapy. Below is an abstract of one set of experiments. Read and enjoy.
Suppression of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis using estrogen receptor-selective ligands
by: Merle M Elloso, Kristen Phiel, Ruth A Henderson, Heather A Harris, Steven J Adelman
J Endocrinol, Vol. 185, No. 2. (1 May 2005), pp. 243-252.
Estrogens have been shown to modulate disease activity in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the mouse model for multiple sclerosis.
Consistent with these findings, the severity of disease is reduced in pregnant women with multiple sclerosis when levels of estrogens are high.
Estrogens bind to two known estrogen receptors (ER), ERalpha and ERbeta. The relative contribution of these receptors to estrogen-mediated suppression of EAE was explored using ER-selective ligands. The ER antagonist ICI 182 780 reversed the suppressive effects of 17beta-estradiol (E2), demonstrating that the protective effects of E2 on disease are dependent upon ER signaling.
Treatment of SJL mice with the ERalpha-selective agonist proteolipid protein (PPT) prior to the induction of disease resulted in suppression of clinical symptoms of disease, whereas treatment with an ERbeta-selective agonist (WAY-202041) had no effect.
Treatment of mice with PLP peptide 139-151 (PPT) was also associated with decreased immune responses associated with disease. Consistent with its lack of effect on disease, the ERbeta agonist had minimal effects on immune responses.
The use of selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) in this model was also explored, and we show that raloxifene and WAY-138923 were also effective in suppressing disease.
These results demonstrate the beneficial effects of estrogen receptor ligands, in particular ERalpha-selective ligands, and may have implications in the development of therapeutic strategies for multiple sclerosis. 10.1677/joe.1.06063