A friend emailed me this post, which could prove to be a very interesting explanation for the possible remission of autoimmune diseases during pregnancy.
Many women watch their lupus symptoms all but disappear during the 9 months of pregnancy, in exchange, of course, for nausea, bloating, heartburn and weight gain...none of which are any fun. But they welcome the respite from lupus until after the pregnancy - some continuing to feel good post-partum, while others experience a return of lupus symptoms several weeks after giving birth. (Years ago, I'd heard about the high percentage of women with symptom-reprieve during pregnancy, and thought it would be a good way to fend off my disease -a terrible idea that didn't work, and only backfired.)
Of course, this idea of symptom-reprieve isn't a guarantee, and a few women do experience an increase in symptoms. While I haven't been completely symptom-free during this pregnancy (I'm 23 weeks today), I would DEFINITELY say that lupus-wise, I've felt great during both this pregnancy and with Deirdre.
But, as described in the article, research being done at NIH and University of Michigan could reveal the reason why so many people do feel good. And note that while lupus isn't specifically mentioned in the article, here's hoping that where there's a major step made for autoimmune disease, a baby step could follow for lupus.
Here's a quick snippet, but be sure to click here to read the entire post and the U of M health system article that inspired it:
"When studying a small group of pregnant and non-pregnant women, researchers at the University of Michigan and the NIH found the expression of an enzyme known as pyruvate kinase is reduced in immune cells in pregnant women compared to non-pregnant women. And the expression of the enzyme was lower in healthy pregnant women compared to those with preeclampsia, a condition with components similar to autoimmune diseases.
The study is significant because the newly discovered mechanism points to a pathway that could be targeted for treatment. “It may be possible to design drugs that mildly suppress pyruvate kinase activity as a means of replicating the immune status of normal pregnancy,” says Petty [biophysicist at U of M leading the charge].
If drugs can be designed to suppress pyruvate kinase activity, they may prove effective at treating a variety of autoimmune disorders. “I have a long list of things I’d like to see developed for the clinic in the next five years,” Petty commented. "