Problem: Viruses and fetuses face similar immunologic challenges. Each must evade immune detection and destruction. The virus must avoid host recognition of intracellular infection; the fetus allogenic recognition. Each has manipulated the process of antigen presentation to allow survival in an immunologic environment otherwise predictably hostile. How have these approaches co-evolved? What can they teach us about viral pathogenesis and immunologic interactions at the maternal-fetal interface?
Method of study: Review of relevant literature.
Results: Special classical and non-classical MHC class I products are spared from downregulation in the placenta and from viral immunoevasive strategies.
Conclusions: Viruses rely upon some of the same strategies to avoid immune detection as do trophoblast cells. In the future, viral infections may prove a useful tool for studies of immunology at the maternal-fetal interface.