Why Doesn't a Woman's Body Reject the Fetus in Pregnancy?

It's the job of a human immune system to protect the body against foreign substances - so how come a woman's body doesn't reject the fetus in pregnancy?

Researchers at NYU School of Medicine made a discovery that helps answer the question of gestational immune tolerance:

“Our manuscript addresses a fundamental question in the fields of transplantation immunology and reproductive biology, namely, how do the fetus and placenta, which express antigens that are disparate from the mother, avoid being rejected by the maternal immune system during pregnancy?” explained lead investigator Adrian Erlebacher, MD, PhD, associate professor of pathology and a member of the NYU Cancer Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center. “What we found was completely unexpected at every level.”

The researchers discovered that embryo implantation sets off a process that ultimately turns off a key pathway required for the immune system to attack foreign bodies. As a result, immune cells are never recruited to the site of implantation and therefore cannot harm the developing fetus.


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As a currently pregnant woman, having to deal with all the FUN that is the the 9 month gestation of a mini-me, this also helps answer the question "Why are pregnant women's immune systems too weak to stave off many simple infections, prolonging the length and severity of something as simple as a UTI or the common cold?" Makes sense. Still sucks.

Pardon me; I have to go blow my nose.
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