Research Topic

Perinatal programming of immune function

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The perinatal environment can be critical in programming many aspects of adult physiology, including hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis responses to stress, likelihood of developing psychological disorders, and propensity to develop obesity. It is now becoming clear that long-term immune function can ...

The perinatal environment can be critical in programming many aspects of adult physiology, including hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis responses to stress, likelihood of developing psychological disorders, and propensity to develop obesity. It is now becoming clear that long-term immune function can also be altered by experiences during early life critical windows. We know that neonatal exposure to bacterial or viral infections can influence febrile and sickness responses to a similar challenge later in life, meaning the animal is potentially less well equipped to combat these later infections. It is becoming crucial we understand the mechanisms underlying perinatal programming of our immune system if we are to prevent and treat a variety of conditions with known or suspected perinatal origins.

The purpose of this research topic is to summarize latest knowledge, findings, and opinion in the field of perinatal programming of immune function. We will discuss the mechanisms by which events during the perinatal period can alter immune function, what this means for the animal (including humans), and how we may use this information to prevent or treat disease. We will include contributions based on all approaches, from behavioral to molecular analyses, in animal models and in humans. We welcome both empirical and review papers. In this Research Topic we aim to bringing together a cohesive discussion on the ‘state of the nation’ as regards this field that will allow an integrative focus on the existing evidence as well as allowing us to identify concrete avenues for future investigation.


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