In pregnancy, the maternal immune system is regulating placental development and function. The dominant population of uterine leukocytes are Natural Killer (NK) cells, able to recognise MHC Class-I molecules on fetal trophoblast cells. I work in the Moffett group which identified that one particular maternal KIR haplotype and fetal HLA-C combination is associated with the major diseases of pregnancy: recurrent miscarriage, fetal growth restriction, and pre-eclampsia. The question is now to refine the outcome of the different KIR genes/HLA ligands interactions.
Funding: British Heart Foundation and the Centre for Trophoblast Research