Uncontrolled inflammation during pregnancy has devastating effects on the fetus, increasing the risk of premature birth and lowering birth weight, with heightened chances of life-long diseases in the newborn such as brain disorders. Suboptimal function of the placenta, an organ essential to fetal development, is also linked to pathological pregnancies and is strongly associated to inflammation. Although infections are known to induce inflammation, a significant proportion of pregnancies show signs of inflammation but without detectable infection. Alarmins, inflammatory mediators contained within every cell of the body that can be released following an injury or insult, are another potential source of inflammation.
We recently reported that several alarmins are elevated in the maternal circulation in pathological pregnancies, several days prior to delivery and that they can have negative effects on functions of the placenta. There is currently no available technics to detect, easily and before birth, a suboptimal fetal environment (i.e. inflammation and/or placental dysfunction) which limits the possibility to administer treatment during pregnancy.
Furthermore, the mechanisms linking inflammation during pregnancy to the negative effects on the fetus are still mostly unknown, adding to the therapeutic difficulties. Based on this information, my work is dedicated to the better understanding of the mechanisms linking inflammation during pregnancy, placental dysfunction and abnormal fetal development; which will facilitate the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies to protect targeting the placenta to protect the fetus and minimize the long-term impact on its development.