Reproductive Immunology Unit
Program Grant: Function of TLRs throughout gestation
The purpose of the program project grant is to evaluate the placental, decidual and maternal immune interactions from a new perspective, that a positive interaction between placental and maternal components exist together to support and protect pregnancy and does not represent the classic graft/rejection interaction. Trophoblast cells, decidual (stromal and endothelial) cells, as well as cells of the innate immune system, communicate with each other throughout a network of cytokines and chemokines. Such crosstalk occurs through the expression of innate immune sensors, known as Toll-like Receptors (TLRs) that are expressed at the maternal-fetal interface and serve as sensors for the recognition and response to the environment throughout implantation and gestation. Our studies focus on the expression, regulation and function of TLRs in each of the cellular components of the maternal-fetal interface, and to evaluate their role in pregnancy success providing a complete picture of molecular regulation and cellular interactions at the maternal-fetal interface. The ongoing studies in the Program Grant utilize different cell type cultures obtained from the same reproductive tissues. The collaboration of the three programs provides a unique opportunity to evaluate trophoblast cells, decidual cells, endothelial cells and immune cells from the same tissue sample.