The paradoxical ability to launch effective immunity against pathogens while avoiding the horror autotoxicus of autoimmunity is one of the most remarkable features of the mammalian immune system. This assumes a particular evolutionary significance at the maternal/fetal interface, where avoidance of immune reactivity to the fetus is vital to the propagation of the species itself. Several mechanisms of suppressing maternal immunity against the fetus have been described. The article by Collins et al. in this issue of the JCI describes a novel mechanism of avoiding immune surveillance in which the migratory capacity of dendritic cells at the maternal/fetal interface is restrained (see the related article beginning on page 2062).
Rana Chakraborty, Bali Pulendran