Disturbances in fetal neurodevelopment have extensively been related to neurodevelopmental disorders in early and later life. Fetal neurodevelopment is dependent on adequate functioning of the fetal immune system. During pregnancy, the maternal immune system is challenged to both tolerate the semi-allogenic fetus and to protect the mother and fetus from microbes. The fetal immune system is influenced by maternal immune disturbances; therefore, perturbations in maternal immunity likely do not only alter pregnancy outcome but also alter fetal neurodevelopment. A possible common pathway could be modulating the functioning of tissue macrophages in the placenta and brain.
Maternal immune tolerance towards the fetus involves several complex adaptations. In this active maternal immune state, the fetus develops its own immunity. As cytokines and other players of the immune system-which can pass the placenta-are involved in neurodevelopment, disruptions in immune balance influence fetal neurodevelopment. Several studies reported an association between maternal immune activation, complications of pregnancy as preeclampsia, and altered neonatal neurodevelopment. A possible pathway involves dysfunctioning of microglia cells, the immune cells of the brain. Functionality of microglia cells during normal pregnancy is, however, poorly understood. The recent outbreak of ZIKA virus (ZKV), but also the literature on virus infections in general and its consequences on microglial cell function and fetal neurodevelopment show the devastating effects a virus infection during pregnancy can have.
- Maternal immune activation (MIA)
- AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS
- REGULATORY T-CELLS
- ZIKA VIRUS
- SEMINAL PLASMA