Group Title: Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2003, 1:115
Title: Frontiers in reproductive immunology – Forum introduction
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Title: Frontiers in reproductive immunology – Forum introduction
Series Title: Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2003, 1:115
Physical Description: Archival
Creator: Hansen PJ
Publication Date: 37953
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Bibliographic ID: UF00100212
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: Open Access: http://www.biomedcentral.com/info/about/openaccess/

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Editorial


Frontiers in reproductive immunology Forum introduction
Peter J Hansen*


Address: Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, PO Box 110910, Gainesville, FL 32611-0910, USA
Email: Peter J Hansen* hansen@animal.ufl.edu
* Corresponding author


Published: 28 November 2003
Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2003, 1:115


Received: 17 November 2003
Accepted: 28 November 2003


This article is available from: http://www.rbej.com/content/I1/1/115
2003 Hansen; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media
for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original URL.


It has been 50 years since Sir Peter Medawar kindled sci-
entific interest in the unique problem posed by the exist-
ence of the fetal allograft within the uterus [1]. The
resultant efforts of immunologists and reproductive phys-
iologists to understand the mechanisms by which the con-
ceptus successfully evades rejection by the maternal
immune system has led to a richer understanding of the
nature of immune responses in the uterus and of their reg-
ulation by maternal and concepts signals (see Billington,
1993 for a reflection on the progress since Medawar's sem-
inal paper [2]). Increasingly, the fact that the immune sys-
tem is functional in the reproductive tract of the female is
being recognized not only as a potential threat to the con-
ceptus but as an important part of host defense in the
female. The female reproductive tract is invaded by micro-
organisms at mating, parturition, and other times and it is
critical to the health of the female that the immune system
functions effectively in the uterus. Indeed, one can view
the principles of reproductive immunology as at the
center of combating one of the major health crises in the
world the spread of venereal diseases, including
acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

This forum seeks to highlight areas of reproductive immu-
nology research that are changing our understanding of
the nature of the interaction of the immune and reproduc-
tive systems. Three papers, in a section entitled "Repro-
ductive Tract Defenses Against Pathogens" address the
central role of the immune system within the reproductive
tract preventing and eliminating foreign pathogens.
King and coauthors delineate the role of the innate
immune system in host defense within the reproductive
tract. Lewis describes the critical actions of ovarian ster-
oids in modulating the effectiveness of reproductive tract
defenses against microorganisms and Corbeil illustrates


strategies for developing vaccines against sexually-trans-
mitted diseases.

A second section of the forum, entitled "Immunological
Adjustments During Pregnancy" describes some recent
concepts to explain survival of the concepts during preg-
nancy. Emphasis is given to the critical role that macro-
phages (article by Mor and Abraham) and gamma-delta T
cells (article by Mincheva-Nilsson) play in this process.

Papers in the third section, entitled "Pathological Conse-
quences of Inappropriate Immune Function in the Repro-
ductive Tract" illustrate some of the deleterious
consequences for reproductive function that arise when
the immune system functions in an aberrant manner.
KanellopoulosLangevin and coauthors describe how
inflammatory mediators at the feto-matemal interface can
disrupt the course of pregnancy and Peltier highlights the
problem of premature labor caused by production of
proinflammatory cytokines. Finally, using the example of
endometriosis, Kyama and coauthors point out that inap-
propriate immune function in the uterus may lead to
abnormal reproductive tract function in the nonpregnant
female.

References
I. Medawar PB: Some immunological and endocrinological prob-
lems raised by the evolution ofviviparity in vertebrates. Symp
Soc Exp Biol 1953, 7:320-338.
2. Billington WD: The immunological problem of pregnancy: 50
years with the hope of progress. A tribute to Peter Medawar.
j Reprod Immunol 2003, 60:1 -1 I.







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