Treg cells & placental development
This reproductive immunology honours project investigates regulatory T cells to drive vascular adaptations in early pregnancy to facilitate placental development.
Preeclampsia is a complication that affects 5-8% of pregnancies worldwide, and poses a significant risk to maternal and infant health.
There is currently no treatment for preeclampsia, and therefore up to 12% of infants are born small for gestational age and 20% are born preterm.
As such, preeclampsia contributes to long-term health complications in offspring as well as postpartum women.
The syndrome is characterised by impaired placental development, which reduces the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. The anti-inflammatory immune cell, regulatory T cells (Treg), are essential for maternal immune tolerance to the developing fetus and placenta.
We have also shown that Treg cells have an integral role in driving the vascular changes that occur during a healthy pregnancy.
Accumulating evidence implicates dysregulation of maternal Treg cells in abnormal placental development and the development of preeclampsia. In this project, we will use tissue from a mouse model of preeclampsia to assess placental development.
We will investigate how the maternal immune cells assist in the development of the placenta, and their role in facilitating vascular changes required to enable sufficient blood flow to the fetus.