Amsterdam, NL -- A number of different immunological mechanisms ensure the successful establishment and maintenance of pregnancy. Imbalance in these mechanisms is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. In a review published in Advances in Neuroimmune Biology, researchers from the Institute of Life Science, College of Medicine at Swansea University in the UK examine the impact of maternal obesity on the inflammatory responses in tissues of both the mother and the child.
"While great progress has been made in elucidating the immunological mechanisms that ensure reproductive success, we now need to understand the impact of a very modern epidemic on immune response at the materno-fetal interface, as well on the mother and the child," said lead investigator Catherine A. Thornton, PhD. "Inflammation may have a key role in many of the detrimental effects of obesity in non-pregnant individuals, and emerging data suggest that inflammation also links obesity and adverse pregnancy outcomes."
Evidence of altered inflammatory status with obesity in the circulation of both the mother and child in pregnancy is emerging. For example, obese pregnant women have elevated levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6). IL-6 is also increased in the cord plasma of offspring of obese mothers, and is associated with increased fetal adiposity and, in a rat model, to hypertension and increased hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity in adulthood. Altered inflammatory status of the placenta in association with maternal obesity may have a critical role in the short term programming of health and disease in the offspring, the researchers commented. Maternal obesity is associated with an inflammatory response by the placenta including elevated pro-inflammatory cytokine gene expression.
The negative impact of maternal obesity on the immune function of mother and child includes an increased risk for preeclampsia, likely mediated via inflammation and triglyc
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