Immune Interactions at the Maternal–Fetal Interface: a Focus on Antigen Presentation

Authors

  • Heather Huddleston,

    1. Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Fertility, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Danny J. Schust

    1. Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Fertility, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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Address reprint requests to Danny J. Schust, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Fertility, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 75 Francis Street, Thorn 229, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.
E-mail: dschust@partners.org

Abstract

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.

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