At implantation, the embryo expresses paternally derived alloantigens and evokes inflammation that can threaten reproductive success. To ensure a robust placenta and sustainable pregnancy, an active state of maternal immune tolerance mediated by CD4+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) is essential. Tregs operate to inhibit effector immunity, contain inflammation, and support maternal vascular adaptations, thereby facilitating trophoblast invasion and placental access to the maternal blood supply. Insufficient Treg numbers or inadequate functional competence are implicated in idiopathic infertility and recurrent miscarriage as well as later-onset pregnancy complications stemming from placental insufficiency, including preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction. In this Review, we summarize the mechanisms acting in the conception environment to drive the Treg response and discuss prospects for targeting the T cell compartment to alleviate immune-based reproductive disorders.
Sarah A. Robertson, Alison S. Care, Lachlan M. Moldenhauer