Environmental factor-driven immune dysbalances during pregnancy

Scientific theme

A healthy pregnancy is the basic requirement for the healthy development of the growing child. The successful course of a pregnancy essentially depends on the establishment and maintenance of the mother's immunological tolerance towards her child. In order to ensure the development of fetal tolerance, the maternal immune cells are regulated by a number of factors. Various hormones, which increase sharply during pregnancy, play an important role here. After these hormones bind to their receptors on/in the immune cells, they trigger specific signaling pathways that strengthen the enrichment and function of fetus-favoring immune cell populations and curb those of fetus-damaging immune cell populations. Thus they keep the delicate balance of the maternal immune system. It is alarming that there is increasing evidence that certain ingredients in goods that we use every day have “hormone-like” effects. These so-called endocrine disruptors bind to the same receptors as naturally occurring hormones, but trigger different signaling pathways in the target cells. Initial studies have clearly shown that endocrine disruptors can negatively affect the course of pregnancy and the fertility of the offspring. Thus, on the one hand, they reduce the reproductive success in the population and, on the other hand, increase the risk of pregnancy-related complications in the growing child. Our research aims to decipher the mechanisms of action of the endocrine disruptors with a focus on the immunological balance in order to protect the pregnancy and the health of our children.



PD Dr. Anne Schumacher

Team members

Dr. Clarisa Santamaria

Julia Howanski

Projects supported by third-party funds

Third-party donor Project Coordinator
HEXAL-AG Hormonal control of immune responses in pregnancy and autoimmune diseases PD Dr. Anne Schumacher