Influenza during pregnancy increases the susceptibility to infection in offspring

September 27, 2021

Influenza during pregnancy increases the susceptibility to infection in offspring In this recent study, scientists of the Heinrich-Pette-Institute, Hamburg, and the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover together with colleagues from the Helmholtz Zentrum München, the Imperial College London, and the Research Center Borstel could show, that moderate influenza A infection of pregnant mice increased the offspring’s susceptibility to infection from other viruses as well as bacteria, especially early in life. Enhanced vulnerability to infection in neonates was associated with reduced haematopoetic development and immune responses.

The underlying mechanisms turned out to be multi-factorial, including maternal immune activation upon first hit, low birthweight of the offspring, and the failure of alveolar macrophages from offspring exposed to maternal influenza to clear second hit pathogens. The new findings suggest that maternal influenza infection may impair immune ontogeny and increase susceptibility to early life infections of offspring.

Jacobsen H, Walendy-Gnirß K, Tekin-Bubenheim N, Kouassi NM, Ben-Batalla I, Berenbrok N, Wolff M, Dos Reis VP, Zickler M, Scholl L, Gries A, Jania H, Kloetgen A, Düsedau A, Pilnitz-Stolze G, Jeridi A, Yildirim AÖ, Fuchs H, Gailus-Durner V, Stoeger C, de Angelis MH, Manuylova T, Klingel K, Culley FJ, Behrends J, Loges S, Schneider B, Krauss-Etschmann S, Openshaw P, Gabriel G. Offspring born to influenza A virus infected pregnant mice have increased susceptibility to viral and bacterial infections in early life Nat Commun. 2021 Aug 16;12(1):4957.

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