Supplementary MaterialsNIHMS1000926-supplement-Supplementary_Materials. term infants, and an increase in maternal microchimerism. T cells from preterm infants mount a robust proliferative, proinflammatory response to maternal antigens compared to term infants yet fail to respond to third-party antigens. Furthermore, we show that T cells from preterm infants stimulate uterine myometrial contractility through interferon- and tumor necrosis factorC. In parallel, we found that adoptive transfer of activated T cells directly into mouse fetuses resulted in pregnancy loss. Our findings indicate that fetal inflammation and rejection of maternal antigens can contribute to the signaling cascade that promotes uterine contractility and that aberrant fetal immune responses should be considered in the pathogenesis of PTL. One Sentence Summary: Activated fetal T cells promote preterm labor through the induction of maternal uterine contractions. INTRODUCTION Preterm birth (defined as delivery before 37 weeks of gestation) is the leading cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality in the developed world, accounting for 35% of infant deaths in the first year of life (1). Although preterm birth has multiple etiologies (2), infection and inflammation are the most common causes of spontaneous preterm labor (PTL) (3). Research on the immunological causes of PTL has mainly focused on activation of the innate immune system (3), with a relative lack of information regarding the possible role of the adaptive immune system. Healthy pregnancy is the most robust form of tolerance, in which the semiallogeneic mother and fetus tolerate each other: PTL, often associated with maternal infections, could potentially arise from a breakdown in maternal-fetal tolerance. For example, infections can activate the adaptive immune system and trigger T cellCmediated allograft rejection (4, 5). Thus, it is important to understand whether maternal or fetal T cell activation plays a role in the pathogenesis of PTL. In healthy pregnancies, multiple overlapping mechanisms maintain tolerance at the maternal-fetal interface (6). On the maternal side, PKI-587 ic50 reactive T cells are prevented from crossing the placenta (7), and their activation is kept under control by the expansion of regulatory T cells (Tregs) (8C10). In addition, uterine PKI-587 ic50 dendritic cells (DCs) are unable to migrate into uterine-draining lymph nodes and prime maternal T cells (11), and decidual B cells further counteract inflammatory responses during PTL (12). Immaturity of fetal antigen-presenting cells (APCs) (13) is another mechanism of tolerance reported in mouse models. Although maternal T cells that recognize fetal antigens presented by fetal APCs (using the direct pathway of antigen presentation) comprise most of the alloreactive repertoire (14), the relative immaturity of fetal APCs and their low numbers in the maternal circulation mean that there is inefficient antigen presentation using this pathway, which effectively prevents maternal T cells from becoming activated in a healthy murine pregnancy (15). However, Rabbit Polyclonal to Thyroid Hormone Receptor alpha most of these mechanisms responsible for dampening T cell responses have been only described for maternal, not fetal, T cells. The possible contribution of fetal T cells has not been well examined, perhaps secondary to the predominant use of murine models, in which fetal T cells mature later than in humans (16). One important mechanism for maintaining maternal-fetal tolerance arises on the fetal side because of formation of fetal Tregs. It has PKI-587 ic50 been shown that there is a baseline level of trafficking of cells between the mother and the fetus, leading to microchimerism of maternal cells in the fetus (maternal microchimerism) (17, 18). These maternal cells induce the generation of fetal Tregs against noninherited maternal antigens in healthy pregnancies (19). Conversely, there is some evidence that alterations in PKI-587 ic50 microchimerism occur during pregnancy complications in murine models (9, 20C22), and it is possible that changes in microchimerism may lead to aberrant fetal T cell activation and perturb the balance between tolerance and rejection. Although activation of the human fetal innate immune system during inflammation has been described (23C25), additional effects on fetal T cell activation remain unknown..