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Pregnancy and gamma/delta T cells: Taking on the hard questions

BioMed Central Ltd.
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  • Biology
  • Medicine

Abstract ral Reproductive Biology and ss BioMed CentEndocrinology Open AcceReview Pregnancy and gamma/delta T cells: Taking on the hard questions Lucia Mincheva-Nilsson* Address: Dept. Of Clinical Immunology, Umeå University, s-90185 Umeå, Sweden Email: Lucia Mincheva-Nilsson* - [email protected] * Corresponding author Introduction Considering the allograft rejection as one of the basic fea- tures of the immune system, the mammalian pregnancy is still a puzzling situation where the semiallogeneic embryo, a mating product of non-histocompatible indi- viduals is not rejected. How are the demands of pregnancy solved in the context of the maternal immunity? How is the competent maternal immune system modulated dur- ing pregnancy? These are hard questions to answer and an intriguing challenge for immunologists to explain. Histor- ically, the mammalian fetus has been regarded as a suc- cessful allograft, a tumor or a parasite [1,2]. Although the mechanisms that promote the survival of the conceptus are at large still unknown, it has become increasingly clear that the maternal immune tolerance towards the fetus is the result of the interactions of a jigsaw puzzle of actors – cells, serum proteins, hormones, cytokines, enzymes and neurotransmitters. The fetus is never in direct contact with uterine/maternal tissues. Instead, the contact is mediated through the pla- centa, a transient organ expressing preferentially paternal genes. Placental trophoblast cells come in close contact with the maternal tissues forming the so-called feto- maternal interface. There is no doubt that the maternal immune system is able to recognize and react to fetally derived antigens. However, the fetus is recognized in such a way that the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) – specific, acquired arm of the maternal immunity is sup- pressed [3,4]. Instead, the maternal innate, first-line defense immune mechanisms are used and promoted during gestation [5,6]. The γδT cells

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