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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.

Dr Alison Care


Dr Alison Care

Co-supervisorProfessor Sarah Robertson

Research area: Immunology Research Group, School of Medicine

Recommended honours enrolment: Honours in Molecular and Biomedical Science

Tagged in Honours projects - Molecular and biomedical science, Honours projects - Alison Care, Honours projects - Sarah Robertson, Honours projects - Molecular and biomedical science: Microbiology and immunology

STEM Careers Night: On-campus and online

Whether you're still at high school or planning to join us mid-year, taking a break from study or rethinking your career path, come chat with us at our STEM Careers Night.

You and your parents are invited to join us on campus on Tuesday 18 May to see what’s available in the world of STEM.

STEM Careers Night