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Pregnancy presents a singular physiological scenario during which the maternal immune system must accommodate the semiallogeneic fetus. Fluctuations between pro- and anti-inflammatory states are required throughout gestation to facilitate uterine tissue remodeling, fetal growth and development, and finally birth. Tolerance for the fetus must be established and maintained without fundamentally compromising the maternal immune system function, so that both the mother and fetus are protected from foreign insults. Here, we review our current understanding of how genetic variation at both maternal and fetal loci affects implantation and placenta formation, thereby determining the likelihood of a successful pregnancy outcome or the development of pregnancy-related complications. We also consider the impact of pregnancy on both the maternal and fetal systemic immune systems and the related implications for modulating ongoing autoimmune diseases and triggering their development.

Original publication




Journal article


Annual review of genomics and human genetics

Publication Date





73 - 97


Nuffield Department of Medicine, Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7BN, United Kingdom; email: