Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Paternal priming of maternal tissues to optimise pregnancy success

John J. Bromfield A B , Jason A. Rizo A and Laila A. Ibrahim A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A D. H. Barron Reproductive and Perinatal Biology Research Program, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, PO Box 110910, Gainesville, FL 32611-0910, USA.

B Corresponding author. Email: jbromfield@ufl.edu

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 30(1) 50-55 https://doi.org/10.1071/RD17345
Published: 4 December 2017

Abstract

The question of ‘how does the allogeneic fetus survive gestation in the face of the maternal immune system?’ has yet to be definitively answered. Several acceptable mechanisms exist to facilitate survival of the semi-allogeneic fetus in various species; paramount is the immunological separation of maternal and fetal tissues during gestation. However, keen observation of the maternal immune system during pregnancy has noted maternal immune tolerance to paternal-specific antigens. A mechanism by which the maternal immune system tolerates specific paternal antigens expressed on the fetus would be far more beneficial than the previously proposed immune indolence that would leave the mother susceptible to infection. In species like human or rodent, implantation occurs days after fertilisation and, as such, the mechanisms to establish antigen-specific tolerance must be initiated very early during pregnancy. We and others propose that these mechanisms are initiated at the time of insemination when paternal antigens are first introduced to the maternal immune system. Indeed, a new paradigm demonstrating the importance of paternal–maternal communication at the time of insemination is becoming evident as it relates to maternal tolerance to fetal antigen and ultimately pregnancy success.

Additional keywords: fetal programming, immune modulation, insemination, seminal plasma.


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