Disturbances in T-cells, specifically the Th17/Treg balance, have been implicated in adverse pregnancy outcomes. We investigated these two T-cell populations following pre-pregnancy and pregnancy SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 vaccination in 351 participants from a pregnancy cohort in New York City (Generation C; 2020-2022). SARS-CoV-2 infection status was determined via laboratory or medical diagnosis and COVID-19 vaccination status via survey and electronic medical records data. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were collected at routine prenatal visits throughout gestation (median 108 days; IQR 67-191 days) with repeated measures for 104 participants (29.6%). T-cell populations CD4+/CD3+, Th17/CD4+, Treg/CD4+ and the Th17/Treg ratio were quantified using flow cytometry. Results showed that inter-individual differences are a main influencing factor in Th17 and Treg variance, however total variance explained remained small (R2 = 15-39%). Overall, Th17 and Treg populations were not significantly affected by SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy in adjusted linear mixed models (p>0.05), however comparison of repeated measures among SARS-CoV-2 infected participants and non-infected controls suggests a relative increase of the Th17/Treg ratio following infection. In addition, the Th17/Treg ratio was significantly higher after SARS-CoV-2 infection prior to pregnancy (10-138 weeks) compared to controls (β=0.48, p=0.003). COVID-19 vaccination was not associated with Th17 and Treg cells. Our findings suggest an impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on the Th17/Treg ratio, likely depending on severity of infection, yet the observed trends and their potential consequences for pregnancy outcomes require further investigation. Our study contributes to growing evidence that COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy does not lead to an exacerbated immune response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1350288
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
StatePublished - 2024


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • COVID-19 vaccination
  • SARS-CoV-2 infection
  • Th17
  • Treg
  • ratio


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