Regulatory T Cells in Pregnancy Adverse Outcomes (Rutepo)
Tregs, or regulatory T cells, are a type of immune cell that play a crucial role during pregnancy. These cells help regulate the immune responses in the maternal-fetal interface to protect the developing fetus from rejection by the mother's immune system.
During pregnancy, the immune system undergoes significant changes to create an environment favourable for the fetus's development and growth. Tregs are one of the main components of this immune adaptation, and they are primarily responsible for maintaining the immune tolerance towards fetal antigens.
Low levels of Tregs have been associated with pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia, recurrent pregnancy loss, and preterm birth. Studies have shown that boosting the number of Tregs during pregnancy can improve pregnancy outcomes and reduce the risk of complications.
We are currently investigating the various Treg subset and ways to manipulate Tregs to predict, prevent and treat pregnancy complications.
The Fetal Medicine Foundation at the Fetal Medicine Research Institute in Denmark Hill supports our study. Pregnant individuals attending routine appointments at King’s College Hospital are recruited. About 10% of pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes, 3% with pre-eclampsia and 1.6% with preterm birth. We have a mixture of various demographics at the King's Health Partners NHS Trusts.
We are currently studying the differences in the immune cells in the cohorts who developed pregnancy adverse outcomes and more specifically, in Tregs, Th1, Th2 and Th17.
Tregs hold great potential as a predictive marker or therapeutic asset, identifiable early in pregnancy. Future studies could investigate strategies to modify these cells as a therapeutic approach in developing a personalised management plan.
Funding Body: Fetal Medicine Foundation
Period: February 2021 - January 2028