Autoimmune congenital heart block (CHB) is associated with placental transcytosis of maternal autoantibodies directed against Ro/SS-A and La/SS-B. However, only about 2% of children born to mothers with the respective antibodies are affected, indicating that further risk factors exist, which are not yet fully understood. In this study, we investigated whether a maternal type I interferon (IFN) signature represents a risk factor for the development of CHB.Methods
Blood samples, clinical data and serological parameters from 9 women with CHB pregnancies, 14 pregnant women with antibodies against Ro/SS-A but without a CHB complication and another 30 healthy pregnant women as controls were studied. SIGLEC1 expression was measured by flow cytometry and was correlated to plasma IFN-α levels measured by ELISA, and IFN-γ-induced protein 10 (IP-10) levels measured by Bio-Plex technique.Results
Mothers of affected children had a significantly higher expression of SIGLEC1 (p=0.0034) and IFN-α (p=0.014), but not of IP-10 (p=0.14, all MWU) compared to mothers of unaffected children. SIGLEC1 and IFN-α expression were reduced by hydroxychloroquine and oral glucocorticoids.Conclusions
High expression of SIGLEC1 in pregnant women with autoantibodies against Ro/SS-A indicates an enhanced risk for CHB development, and these women may benefit especially from IFN-α directed therapy, for example with hydroxychloroquine.