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ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Activation of TLR3 in the Trophoblast is Associated with Preterm Delivery


Gil Mor, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, Reproductive Immunology Unit, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar St., LSOG 305A, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Problem  Toll-like receptors (TLRs) recognize conserved sequences on the surface of pathogens and trigger effector cell functions. Previously, we described the expression of TLR3 by human trophoblast and their ability to respond to (Poly[I:C]). Here we evaluate the effect of Poly[I:C] on mouse pregnancy and characterize the local and systemic response.

Method of study  C57B/6 wild type (wt) and TLR3 knockout (TLR3KO) mice were treated with Poly[I:C] at 16.5 dpc and pregnancy outcome recorded. Morphologic changes, cytokines and chemokines levels in blood and utero-placental tissue were determined. NF-κB pathway was evaluated in vivo and in vitro.

Results  Poly[I:C] in C57B/6 wt mice caused preterm delivery within 24 hr (4.5 mg/kg). No effect was observed in TLR3KO mice. In addition, we observed local (placenta) and systemic (serum) response characterized by increased production of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines. The NF-κB pathway was activated by Poly[I:C] in human and mice trophoblast cells.

Conclusion  We report that Poly[I:C] induces preterm delivery via TLR3-dependent manner. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the trophoblast is able to recognize Poly[I:C] through TLR3 and respond to viral infection, modulating the immune system at the feto-maternal interface.