AIMS: To determine the effect of pregnancy on C4d concentrations and to assess whether C4d remains a useful disease activity marker in the management of connective tissue diseases during pregnancy. METHODS: Plasma C3, C4, and C4d concentrations were measured in 83 women at various stages of normal pregnancy and compared with those in 80 non-pregnant controls. RESULTS: C3 concentrations in the pregnant women were significantly raised (p = 0.0001) and the C4 concentrations were reduced (p = 0.0007), and accompanied by a significant increase in C4d (p = 0.0001). The C4d:C4 ratio was higher in the pregnant women (p = 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Pregnancy induces activation of the classical complement pathway. C4d concentrations cannot be used to monitor disease activity in patients with connective tissue diseases during pregnancy.
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