UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Maternal Obesity and the Uterine Immune Cell Landscape: The Shaping Role of Inflammation St-Germain, Lauren E.; Castellana, Barbara; Baltayeva, Jennet; Beristain, Alexander G.


Inflammation is often equated to the physiological response to injury or infection. Inflammatory responses defined by cytokine storms control cellular mechanisms that can either resolve quickly (i.e., acute inflammation) or remain prolonged and unabated (i.e., chronic inflammation). Perhaps less well-appreciated is the importance of inflammatory processes central to healthy pregnancy, including implantation, early stages of placentation, and parturition. Pregnancy juxtaposed with disease can lead to the perpetuation of aberrant inflammation that likely contributes to or potentiates maternal morbidity and poor fetal outcome. Maternal obesity, a prevalent condition within women of reproductive age, associates with increased risk of developing multiple pregnancy disorders. Importantly, chronic low-grade inflammation is thought to underlie the development of obesity-related obstetric and perinatal complications. While diverse subsets of uterine immune cells play central roles in initiating and maintaining healthy pregnancy, uterine leukocyte dysfunction as a result of maternal obesity may underpin the development of pregnancy disorders. In this review we discuss the current knowledge related to the impact of maternal obesity and obesity-associated inflammation on uterine immune cell function, utero-placental establishment, and pregnancy health.

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CC BY 4.0