30 September 2020

Successful pregnancy strongly relies on a tightly regulated immune environment of the uterus. Researchers from the Laboratory for Medical Immunology now provide an unprecedented in-depth analysis of uterine B cells throughout pregnancy. The results by Marilen Benner theme Inflammatory diseases and colleagues of the reproductive immunology group led by Renate van der Molen are published in Cell Reports and are featured on this issue’s cover.

They show that through all stages of pregnancy, B cells are present at the fetal-maternal interface. The dynamic lymphocyte population increase in memory during gestation. Uterine B cells have the capacity to produce interleukin-10 and do so to a higher extent than circulating B cells. IL-10 is known to be crucial for counteracting inflammation of non-clinical uterine infections to prohibit preterm birth. Although present in small numbers, the study shows that uterine B cells accumulate in clusters with T cells and are thus intertwined with other important lymphocytes of the fetal-maternal interface.

The study is the first to investigate B cells in more than one-hundred human placenta samples in detail. It highlights the possible implications of a cell population that is just starting to be acknowledged in efforts to understand the pathophysiology of adverse pregnancy outcomes.

The project in collaboration with MildredClinics Arnhem is financed by a RIMLS Junior Researcher grant.

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