Tissue macrophages play an important role in all stages of pregnancy, including uterine stromal remodeling (decidualization) before embryo implantation, parturition, and post-partum uterine involution. The activation state and function of utero-placental macrophages are largely dependent on the local tissue microenvironment. Thus, macrophages are involved in a variety of activities such as regulation of immune cell activities, placental cell invasion, angiogenesis, and tissue remodeling. Disruption of the uterine microenvironment, particularly during the early stages of pregnancy (decidualization, implantation, and placentation) can have profound effects on macrophage activity and subsequently impact pregnancy outcome. In this review, we will provide an overview of the temporal and spatial regulation of utero-placental macrophage activation during normal pregnancy in human beings and rodents with a focus on more recent findings. We will also discuss the role of M1/M2 dysregulation within the intrauterine environment during adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Keywords: M1/M2; chorioamnionitis; complicated pregnancy; macrophages; normal pregnancy; spiral artery; spontaneous abortion; uterine atherosis.