TLR4 & Treg cells in early pregnancy
This reproductive immunology project explores the role of the toll like receptor 4 (TLR4) in maternal immune adaptation for pregnancy.
An inflammatory response and subsequent immune adaptation occurs in the female reproductive tract after conception, to generate tolerance of paternal antigens and allow embryo implantation.
In particular, T regulatory (Treg) cells play an integral role in these events. The molecular and cellular character of the inflammatory response, including the kinetics of its progression and resolution, are critical to Treg cell generation and implantation success. Various bioactive molecules regulate this inflammatory response, including factors carried by the male seminal fluid.
Our recent studies have highlighted that sperm derived Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) ligands are novel seminal fluid signalling factors, but the exact role that ligation of TLR4 plays in maternal immune adaptation for pregnancy is yet to be established.
This project will utilise TLR4 deficient mice to determine the role that TLR4 plays in maternal immune adaptation in early pregnancy.
Flow cytometry will be utilised to characterise immune cell subtypes, including dendritic cells and Treg cells in early pregnancy. Treg cell functional capacity will be measured using in vitro suppression assays.
This study will help us to expand our understanding of the mechanism by which seminal fluid interacts with female tissues to initiate the peri conception immune response and generate maternal immune tolerance to paternal antigens.
Study reproductive immunology
We seek to unravel the immune and cytokine networks of early pregnancy to understand how maternal immune tolerance to pregnancy is established, and how failure in this process contributes to infertility, miscarriage and pregnancy disorders. Our work also has applications in animal breeding industries where early pregnancy loss is a significant constraint.