The unique immunological and microbial aspects of pregnancy

Nat Rev Immunol. 2017 Aug;17(8):469-482. doi: 10.1038/nri.2017.64. Epub 2017 Jun 19.


The comparison of the immunological state of pregnancy to an immunosuppressed host-graft model continues to lead research and clinical practice to ill-defined approaches. This Review discusses recent evidence that supports the idea that immunological responses at the receptive maternal-fetal interface are not simply suppressed but are instead highly dynamic. We discuss the crucial role of trophoblast cells in shaping not only the way in which immune cells respond to the invading blastocyst but also how they collectively react to external stimuli. We also discuss the role of the microbiota in promoting a tolerogenic maternal immune system and highlight how subclinical viral infections can disrupt this status quo, leading to pregnancy complications.

MeSH terms

  • Antigen-Presenting Cells
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Female
  • Fetus / immunology
  • Humans
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Pregnancy / immunology*