Innate immune defenses at the maternal-fetal interface.
The human maternal-fetal interface is an immunologically complex environment that must balance the divergent demands of tolerance towards the developing fetus with anti-pathogen defense. The innate immune responses at the maternal-fetal interface that function in anti-microbial defense have been understudied to-date and how 'TORCH' pathogens evade maternal innate immunity to infect the fetus remains poorly understood. Herein, we discuss how newly described decidual innate lymphoid cells and maternal placenta-associated macrophage subsets may be involved in anti-pathogen defense. Moreover, we outline recent advances in our understanding of how placental trophoblasts and fetal-derived macrophages (Hofbauer cells) function in anti-microbial defense. In summary, we highlight current gaps in knowledge and describe novel experimental models of the human decidua and placenta that are poised to advance our knowledge of innate immune defenses at the maternal-fetal interface.
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