The immune system in pregnancy: a unique complexity

Am J Reprod Immunol. 2010 Jun;63(6):425-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0897.2010.00836.x. Epub 2010 Mar 29.


Placental immune response and its tropism for specific viruses and pathogens affect the outcome of the pregnant woman's susceptibility to and severity of certain infectious diseases. The generalization of pregnancy as a condition of immune suppression or increased risk is misleading and prevents the determination of adequate guidelines for treating pregnant women during pandemics. There is a need to evaluate the interaction of each specific pathogen with the fetal/placental unit and its responses to design the adequate prophylaxis or therapy. The complexity of the immunology of pregnancy and the focus, for many years, on the concept of immunology of pregnancy as an organ transplantation have complicated the field and delayed the development of new guidelines with clinical implications that could help to answer these and other relevant questions. Our challenge as scientists and clinicians interested in the field of reproductive immunology is to evaluate many of the 'classical concepts' to define new approaches for a better understanding of the immunology of pregnancy that will benefit mothers and fetuses in different clinical scenarios.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immune System*
  • Placenta / immunology
  • Placenta / virology
  • Pregnancy / immunology*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / immunology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology
  • Virus Diseases / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / transmission
  • Virus Diseases / virology