Fatherly Advice at Conception: A New Memory T-Cell at the Maternal-Fetal Interface

The maternal immune system is tightly regulated to support healthy pregnancies. Locally, at the maternal-fetal interface (the decidua), immune cells must become tolerant to the semi-allogeneic fetus, but the exact mechanism is unknown. Failure to become tolerant is associated with reproductive pathologies, including preterm birth. We recently discovered a major population of tissue-resident memory T cells (TRMs) in the decidua of humans and mice, with a subset of regulatory T cells (TRM Tregs) that are decreased in human preterm births. We hypothesize that decidual TRMs are critical for maintaining maternal-fetal tolerance and propose to analyze their development through single-cell sequencing and to determine if they express immune-suppressive programs. We will further test if decidual TRMs protect in a murine model of preterm birth. Understanding the dynamics and function of TRMs at the MFI may provide a mechanism for defective maternal-fetal tolerance and preterm birth.

Awarded By

  • Translating Duke Health Controlling the Immune System



  • $75,000.00


  • June 2019 - May 2020