CXCR3 blockade protects against Listeria monocytogenes infection-induced fetal wastage.
ABSTRACT: Mammalian pregnancy requires protection against immunological rejection of the developing fetus bearing discordant paternal antigens. Immune evasion in this developmental context entails silenced expression of chemoattractant proteins (chemokines), thereby preventing harmful immune cells from penetrating the maternal-fetal interface. Here, we demonstrate that fetal wastage triggered by prenatal Listeria monocytogenes infection is driven by placental recruitment of CXCL9-producing inflammatory neutrophils and macrophages that promote infiltration of fetal-specific T cells into the decidua. Maternal CD8+ T cells with fetal specificity upregulated expression of the chemokine receptor CXCR3 and, together with neutrophils and macrophages, were essential for L. monocytogenes-induced fetal resorption. Conversely, decidual accumulation of maternal T cells with fetal specificity and fetal wastage were extinguished by CXCR3 blockade or in CXCR3-deficient mice. Remarkably, protection against fetal wastage and in utero L. monocytogenes invasion was maintained even when CXCR3 neutralization was initiated after infection, and this protective effect extended to fetal resorption triggered by partial ablation of immune-suppressive maternal Tregs, which expand during pregnancy to sustain fetal tolerance. Together, our results indicate that functionally overriding chemokine silencing at the maternal-fetal interface promotes the pathogenesis of prenatal infection and suggest that therapeutically reinforcing this pathway represents a universal approach for mitigating immune-mediated pregnancy complications.
Project description:Although the intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes has an established predilection for disseminated infection during pregnancy that often results in spontaneous abortion or stillbirth, the specific host-pathogen interaction that dictates these disastrous complications remain incompletely defined. Herein, we demonstrate systemic maternal Listeria infection during pregnancy fractures fetal tolerance and triggers fetal wastage in a dose-dependent fashion. Listeria was recovered from the majority of concepti after high-dose infection illustrating the potential for in utero invasion. Interestingly with reduced inocula, fetal wastage occurred without direct placental or fetal invasion, and instead paralleled reductions in maternal Foxp3(+) regulatory T cell suppressive potency with reciprocal expansion and activation of maternal fetal-specific effector T cells. Using mutants lacking virulence determinants required for in utero invasion, we establish Listeria cytoplasmic entry is essential for disrupting fetal tolerance that triggers maternal T cell-mediated fetal resorption. Thus, infection-induced reductions in maternal Foxp3(+) regulatory T cell suppression with ensuing disruptions in fetal tolerance play critical roles in pathogenesis of immune-mediated fetal wastage.
Project description:Toxoplasmosis is a worldwide zoonosis caused by the obligate intracellular parasite <i>Toxoplasma gondii</i> The symptoms of congenital toxoplasmosis range from embryonic death and resorption to subclinical infection, but the mechanism of disease onset remains unclear. C-X-C motif chemokine receptor 3 (CXCR3) is highly expressed in Th1-associated immune cells and plays an important role in the trafficking and activation of immune cells. However, the roles of CXCR3 in <i>T. gondii</i>-induced fetal loss and the molecular mechanism of embryo resorption remain poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the role of CXCR3 in fetal wastage caused by <i>T. gondii</i> infection using CXCR3-deficient (CXCR3<sup>-/-</sup>) mice. CXCR3<sup>-/-</sup> and wild-type pregnant mice were inoculated intraperitoneally with <i>T. gondii</i> tachyzoites on day 3.5 of gestation (Gd3.5). Pregnancy rates decreased as the pregnancy progressed in both infected groups; however, infected CXCR3<sup>-/-</sup> mice showed a significant fetal loss at Gd13.5 compared with that at Gd7.5. All embryos of the infected groups showed necrosis, and embryo resorption was significantly increased in infected CXCR3<sup>-/-</sup> compared with wild-type mice at Gd13.5. The parasite load of fetoplacental tissues was significantly increased in CXCR3<sup>-/-</sup> mice at Gd10.5. Moreover, mRNA expression levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase were significantly increased in fetoplacental tissues from infected wild-type mice compared to infected CXCR3<sup>-/-</sup> mice following the infection. These results suggested that CXCR3-dependent immune responses provide anti-<i>Toxoplasma</i> activity and play an essential role in reducing embryo resorption and fetal loss caused by <i>T. gondii</i> infection during early pregnancy.
Project description:Although pregnancy confers unique susceptibility to infection, the pregnancy-associated immune defects that erode host defense remain largely undefined. Herein, we demonstrate that expansion of immune-suppressive Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) which occurs physiologically during pregnancy or when experimentally induced in transgenic mice caused enhanced susceptibility to prenatal pathogens including Listeria and Salmonella species. Reciprocally, infection susceptibility was uniformly reduced with Treg ablation. Importantly however, the sustained expansion of maternal Tregs was essential for maintaining immune tolerance to the developing fetus because even partial transient ablation of Foxp3-expressing cells fractured maternal tolerance to fetal antigen and triggered fetal resorption. Interestingly, Foxp3 cell-intrinsic defects in the immune-suppressive cytokine IL-10 alone were sufficient to override Treg-mediated infection susceptibility, while IL-10 was nonessential for sustaining pregnancy. Thus, maternal Treg expansion required for sustaining pregnancy creates naturally occurring holes in host defense that confer prenatal infection susceptibility.
Project description:Objective:To determine the relationship between maternal bone resorption and bone development in fetuses. Methods:Female SD rats were injected with either fluorescent calcium indicator calcein alone or together with tetracycline 1 week before pregnancy, followed by fluorescence detection in fetal tibias 21 days post-treatment. Alendronate was subsequently administered to pregnant rats to inhibit maternal bone resorption, while maternal bone turnover and fetal bone development were both examined. Results:The maternal fluorescent labeled calcium before pregnancy was found in the fetal tibia. This indicated that the calcium of maternal bones may be released into the maternal circulation through high bone resorption during pregnancy, thereby participating in the fetal bone development. Bone histomorphometry and serum biomarker results showed that Alendronate significantly inhibited maternal bone resorption in pregnant rats when compared to normal pregnant rats. Moreover, the body weight, bone mass, and bone length of the fetuses in the Alendronate group were significantly decreased; while no apparent abnormality in placental morphology was observed. The above results implied that when maternal bone resorption is suppressed, the development of the fetal bone shall also be suppressed. Conclusion:Calcium in the maternal bone is released into the maternal circulation through bone resorption during pregnancy which represents an important material source in fetal bone development. Therefore, high bone turnover during pregnancy is essential for mammalian embryonic bone development.
Project description:Pregnancy stimulates induced Foxp3 expression among maternal CD4(+) T cells with fetal specificity. Although sustained maternal regulatory CD4(+) T cell (Treg) expansion is essential for maintaining fetal tolerance during pregnancy, the necessity for Foxp3(+) cells with fetal specificity remains undefined. In this study, we demonstrate that mitigating Treg differentiation among maternal CD4(+) T cells with a single surrogate fetal specificity elicits Ag-specific fetal loss. Using recombinant Listeria monocytogenes to prime stably differentiated Th1 CD4(+) T cells with fetal I-A(b):2W1S55-68 specificity refractory to pregnancy-induced Foxp3 expression, we show that Ag delivery by cytoplasmic L. monocytogenes causes selective loss of 2W1S(+) offspring through CD4 cell- and IFN-?-dependent pathways. In contrast, CD4(+) T cells primed by L. monocytogenes restricted from the cell cytoplasm are markedly more plastic for induced Foxp3 expression, with normal pregnancy outcomes. Thus, committed Th1 polarization blocks pregnancy induced Treg differentiation among maternal CD4(+) T cells with fetal specificity and triggers Ag-specific fetal loss.
Project description:Pregnant women are highly susceptible to infection by the bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes, leading to miscarriage, premature birth, and neonatal infection. L. monocytogenes is thought to breach the placental barrier by infecting trophoblasts at the maternal/fetal interface. However, the fate of L. monocytogenes within chorionic villi and how infection reaches the fetus are unsettled. Hofbauer cells (HBCs) are fetal placental macrophages and the only leukocytes residing in healthy chorionic villi, forming a last immune barrier protecting fetal blood from infection. Little is known about the HBCs' antimicrobial responses to pathogens. Here, we studied L. monocytogenes interaction with human primary HBCs. Remarkably, despite their M2 anti-inflammatory phenotype at basal state, HBCs phagocytose and kill non-pathogenic bacteria like Listeria innocua and display low susceptibility to infection by L. monocytogenes. However, L. monocytogenes can exploit HBCs to spread to surrounding placental cells. Transcriptomic analyses by RNA sequencing revealed that HBCs undergo pro-inflammatory reprogramming upon L. monocytogenes infection, similarly to macrophages stimulated by the potent M1-polarizing agents lipopolysaccharide (LPS)/interferon gamma (IFN-γ). Infected HBCs also express pro-inflammatory chemokines known to promote placental infiltration by maternal leukocytes. However, HBCs maintain the expression of a collection of tolerogenic genes and secretion of tolerogenic cytokines, consistent with their tissue homeostatic role in prevention of fetal rejection. In conclusion, we propose a previously unrecognized model in which HBCs promote the spreading of L. monocytogenes among placental cells and transition to a pro-inflammatory state likely to favor innate immune responses, while maintaining the expression of tolerogenic factors known to prevent maternal anti-fetal adaptive immunity. <b>IMPORTANCE</b> Infection of the placental/fetal unit by the facultative intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes results in severe pregnancy complications. Hofbauer cells (HBCs) are fetal macrophages that play homeostatic anti-inflammatory functions in healthy placentas. HBCs are located in chorionic villi between the two cell barriers that protect fetal blood from infection: trophoblast cells at the maternal interface (in contact with maternal blood), and fetal endothelial cells at the fetal interface (in contact with fetal blood). As the only leukocytes residing in chorionic villi, HBCs form a critical immune barrier protecting the fetus from infection. Here, we show that although HBCs display low susceptibility to L. monocytogenes, the bacterium still replicates intracellularly and can spread to other placental and fetal cells. We propose that HBCs are permissive to L. monocytogenes transplacental propagation and can repolarize toward a pro-inflammatory phenotype upon infection. However, consistent with their placental homeostatic functions, repolarized HBCs maintain the expression of tolerogenic factors known to prevent maternal anti-fetal adaptive immunity, at least at early stages of infection.
Project description:Maternal stress during pregnancy is widespread and is associated with poor offspring outcomes, including long-term mental health issues. Prenatal stress-induced fetal neuroinflammation is thought to underlie aberrant neurodevelopment and to derive from a disruption in intrauterine immune homeostasis, though the exact origins are incompletely defined. We aimed to identify divergent immune and microbial metagenome profiles of stressed gestating mice that may trigger detrimental inflammatory signaling at the maternal-fetal interface. In response to stress, maternal glucocorticoid circuit activation corresponded with indicators of systemic immunosuppression. At the maternal-fetal interface, density of placental mononuclear leukocytes decreased with stress, yet maternal whole blood leukocyte analysis indicated monocytosis and classical M1 phenotypic shifts. Genome-resolved microbial metagenomic analyses revealed reductions in genes, microbial strains, and metabolic pathways in stressed dams that are primarily associated with pro-inflammatory function. In particular, disrupted Parasutterella excrementihominis appears to be integral to inflammatory and metabolic dysregulation during prenatal stress. Overall, these perturbations in maternal immunological and microbial regulation during pregnancy may displace immune equilibrium at the maternal-fetal interface. Notably, the absence of and reduction in overt maternal inflammation during stress indicates that the signaling patterns driving fetal outcomes in this context are more nuanced and complex than originally anticipated.
Project description:Pregnancy is an intricately orchestrated process where immune effector cells with fetal specificity are selectively silenced. This requires the sustained expansion of immune-suppressive maternal FOXP3(+) regulatory T cells (T(reg) cells), because even transient partial ablation triggers fetal-specific effector T-cell activation and pregnancy loss. In turn, many idiopathic pregnancy complications proposed to originate from disrupted fetal tolerance are associated with blunted maternal T(reg) expansion. Importantly, however, the antigen specificity and cellular origin of maternal T(reg) cells that accumulate during gestation remain incompletely defined. Here we show that pregnancy selectively stimulates the accumulation of maternal FOXP3(+) CD4 cells with fetal specificity using tetramer-based enrichment that allows the identification of rare endogenous T cells. Interestingly, after delivery, fetal-specific T(reg) cells persist at elevated levels, maintain tolerance to pre-existing fetal antigen, and rapidly re-accumulate during subsequent pregnancy. The accelerated expansion of T(reg) cells during secondary pregnancy was driven almost exclusively by proliferation of fetal-specific FOXP3(+) cells retained from prior pregnancy, whereas induced FOXP3 expression and proliferation of pre-existing FOXP3(+) cells each contribute to T(reg) expansion during primary pregnancy. Furthermore, fetal resorption in secondary compared with primary pregnancy becomes more resilient to partial maternal FOXP3(+) cell ablation. Thus, pregnancy imprints FOXP3(+) CD4 cells that sustain protective regulatory memory to fetal antigen. We anticipate that these findings will spark further investigation on maternal regulatory T-cell specificity that unlocks new strategies for improving pregnancy outcomes and novel approaches for therapeutically exploiting T(reg) cell memory.
Project description:Exposure to maternal tissue during in utero development imprints tolerance to immunologically foreign non-inherited maternal antigens (NIMA) that persists into adulthood. The biological advantage of this tolerance, conserved across mammalian species, remains unclear. Here, we show maternal cells that establish microchimerism in female offspring during development promote systemic accumulation of immune suppressive regulatory T cells (Tregs) with NIMA specificity. NIMA-specific Tregs expand during pregnancies sired by males expressing alloantigens with overlapping NIMA specificity, thereby averting fetal wastage triggered by prenatal infection and non-infectious disruptions of fetal tolerance. Therefore, exposure to NIMA selectively enhances reproductive success in second-generation females carrying embryos with overlapping paternally inherited antigens. These findings demonstrate that genetic fitness, canonically thought to be restricted to Mendelian inheritance, is enhanced in female placental mammals through vertically transferred maternal cells that promote conservation of NIMA and enforce cross-generational reproductive benefits.
Project description:Defective placentation and subsequent placental insufficiency lead to maternal and fetal adverse pregnancy outcome, but their pathologic mechanisms are unclear, and treatment remains elusive. The mildly hypertensive BPH/5 mouse recapitulates many features of human adverse pregnancy outcome, with pregnancies characterized by fetal loss, growth restriction, abnormal placental development, and defects in maternal decidual arteries. Using this model, we show that recruitment of neutrophils triggered by complement activation at the maternal/fetal interface leads to elevation in local TNF-? levels, reduction of the essential angiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor, and, ultimately, abnormal placentation and fetal death. Blockade of complement with inhibitors specifically targeted to sites of complement activation, depletion of neutrophils, or blockade of TNF-? improves spiral artery remodeling and rescues pregnancies. These data underscore the importance of innate immune system activation in the pathogenesis of placental insufficiency and identify novel methods for treatment of pregnancy loss mediated by abnormal placentation.