About this Research Topic
Parasitic infections during pregnancy represent a major risk to maternal and fetal health. Despite having a degree of pre-existing immunity to plasmodial and other parasitic infections, pregnancy may render women more susceptible to these pathogens than their non-pregnant counterparts due, at least in part, to pregnancy-related alterations in immune responsiveness. The maternal immune system needs to establish a balance between immune tolerance of the semi-allogeneic fetus and appropriate immune responses to pathogens. The particular case of infection with Plasmodium falciparum, the cause of the syndrome known as placental malaria, is illustrative of the pathological consequences that excessive inflammatory responses can have on fetal development and maternal health. Not all parasitic pathogens are as virulent, but the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii, and helminths, including filarial worms, schistosomes and the soil-transmitted helminths, also challenge the maternal immune system and affect susceptibility to infections in early life. By its nature, pregnancy imposes a strict need to adapt and optimize therapeutic and preventive strategies targeting pregnant women. Thus, improved understanding of the underlying immune mechanisms involved in the interactions with parasitic infections during pregnancy will help to define more efficient and effective approaches to tackling the burden of these infections to improve maternal-fetal health.
The success of Plasmodium and other human parasitic species relies largely on their well-developed ability to manipulate the immune system to their own advantage, allowing them to establish chronic infections without excluding new ones. Protective immunity relies on both humoral and cellular immune mechanisms, involving cytokines in the generation of specific adaptive T and B cell responses, and antigen-specific antibodies that play a key role in the prevention of severe disease.
In this Research Topic, we intend to generate a collection of state-of-the-art research articles on the diverse mechanisms involved in generating immune response to parasitic infections in the context of pregnancy and their impact on pregnancy outcomes. It will also inform on potential therapeutic approaches, including vaccination. We welcome the submission of Original Research, Review, Mini-Review, Opinion, Perspective and Clinical Trial articles covering, but not limited to, the following topics:
1. Mechanisms of immune response to Plasmodium and other parasites during pregnancy infections
2. Role of monocytes, NK cells, macrophages and dendritic cells in the immune response to Plasmodium and other parasite infections in the maternal and fetal compartments in the placenta
3. Dynamics of adaptive T and B cell responses Plasmodium and other parasites in women with different parities
4. Development of functional immunity to Plasmodium and other parasite infections during pregnancy
5. Mechanisms underlying features of the pathogenesis that trigger the immune response to Plasmodium and other parasite infections during pregnancy
6. The identification of antigenic targets of protective immunity against Plasmodium and other parasites during pregnancy and their vaccine potential
Keywords: pregnancy, immunity, therapeutics, vaccine, infectious disease, malaria
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