Influence of environmental chemicals on the innate immune system and consequences for vascular diseases and allergies

Scientific theme

The profound understanding of the mechanisms underlying a successful pregnancy and an optimal fetal development is of crucial importance. The unrestricted intrauterine development is not only important for the survival of our specie, it is the fundament of adult health and diseases. A very important process during early pregnancy is the remodeling of the maternal spiral arteries (SAs) that transport maternal blood to the intervillous space of the placenta so to provide essential nutrients and oxygen for the fetus. This important process is regulated by cells of the innate immune system present at the feto-maternal interface, likewise natural killer cells and mast cells as depicted by the fact that their depletion dramatically impaired fetal growth to the extent of intrauterine fetal growth retardation in animal models. Inadequate remodeling can also cause miscarriage, preeclampsia, or preterm birth.

Our previous studies demonstrated that man-made endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), present in our environment, negatively influence SA remodeling in mice. In human, hypertensive disorders often arise from an insufficient SA remodeling process and a role for environmental chemicals herein has been proposed based on epidemiological observations.

Our research goal is to understand the mechanisms underlying SA remodeling with special emphasis on the putative effect of environmental chemicals directly or indirectly via immune cells. Moreover, we aim to understand if the negative impact of EDCs in pregnancy affects the progeny. With this, we hope to contribute to the global understanding of the consequences of employing man-made chemicals.



Dr. Nicole Meyer

Team members

Federica Romanelli

Beate Fink

Projects supported by third-party funds

Thrid-party donor Project Coordinator
Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft (DFG) Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying uterine spiral artery remodeling, a critical process for pregnancy and fetal well-being: importance of chymases. Dr. Nicole Meyer