BACKGROUND: Both pregnancy and adenosine deaminase (ADA) are associated with depressed cellular mediated immunity. There is little information on ADA activity in pregant Africans. OBJECTIVE: To determine the serum levels of adenosine deaminase (ADA) in normal pregnancy and pregnancy complicated by hypertension in Nigerian women. METHODS: One hundred and twenty-five pregnant women comprising 35 normal non-pregnant women, 35 normal pregnant women, 35 pregnant women with pregnancy induced hypertension and 20 patients with pre-eclampsia were recruited for the study. Serum adenosine deaminase enzyme (ADA) activity was measured by the Giusti and Galanti spectrophotometric method in all study subjects. RESULTS: The mean serum ADA level in the non-pregnant women was higher than that in the normal pregnant women (23.21 ± 6.3 v 14.69 ± 3.2, p<0.001). Amongst the pregnant women, mean serum ADA in the hypertensive and pre-eclamptic women was significantly higher than that in the normal pregnant group (p<0.001). Conclusion: These findings indicate a probable decrease in cellular immunity in normal pregnancy and an enhanced cell mediated immunity in pre-eclampsia.
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