From A*STAR Research Highlights, December 19, 2017 (not bylined):
The fetal immune system is fully developed and functional from as early as 16 weeks gestation, but has a mechanism to keep it suppressed until after birth, according to an A*STAR-led study. Their findings could shed light on the immunological mechanisms underlying fetal-maternal health problems such as pre-eclampsia.
“People thought that the fetal immune system was defective because it was not mature, but we’ve discovered that it’s highly dynamic, highly functional, and in fact represents another specialization,” says Florent Ginhoux, from the Singapore Immunology Network at A*STAR, who co-led the study with Jerry Kok Yen Chan from the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Singapore.
Ginhoux and co-authors analyzed fetal tissues — donated under strict ethical guidelines — for dendritic cells, which are immune cells that sample the environment for potential threats and pass that information to the T cells and B cells to ward off those threats. Read more.