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J Immunol. 2010 Jul 15;185(2):1248-57. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1000289. Epub 2010 Jun 16.

Viral infection of the placenta leads to fetal inflammation and sensitization to bacterial products predisposing to preterm labor.

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Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Immunol. 2011 Sep 1;187(5):2835. Booth, Carmen [corrected to Booth, Carmen J].


Pandemics pose a more significant threat to pregnant women than to the nonpregnant population and may have a detrimental effect on the well being of the fetus. We have developed an animal model to evaluate the consequences of a viral infection characterized by lack of fetal transmission. The experiments described in this work show that viral infection of the placenta can elicit a fetal inflammatory response that, in turn, can cause organ damage and potentially downstream developmental deficiencies. Furthermore, we demonstrate that viral infection of the placenta may sensitize the pregnant mother to bacterial products and promote preterm labor. It is critical to take into consideration the fact that during pregnancy it is not only the maternal immune system responding, but also the fetal/placental unit. Our results further support the immunological role of the placenta and the fetus affecting the global response of the mother to microbial infections. This is relevant for making decisions associated with treatment and prevention during pandemics.

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