Research Topic

Reproductive Neurology: An Evaluation of the Pregnancy Impact on Neurologic Physiology, Pathophysiology, and Immunology

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The mammalian reproductive process is arguably one of the best orchestrated and most dynamic, yet least well-understood biological events in medical science. Reproduction drives hundreds of facets within nature, from color and geographical location, to immune function and hormonal balances. Pregnancy aims for ...

The mammalian reproductive process is arguably one of the best orchestrated and most dynamic, yet least well-understood biological events in medical science. Reproduction drives hundreds of facets within nature, from color and geographical location, to immune function and hormonal balances. Pregnancy aims for perfection and the process moves forward with relatively few hitches.

Understanding how pregnancy impacts the function of the central nervous system (CNS) deserves greater attention. Similar to that of fetal development, the CNS functions in an immune-specialized compartment with protective barriers that regulate small molecule access to and from the blood. This makes the brain a unique target for investigating potential durable and short-lived reproductive related changes.

In the period immediately before fertilization, a wide cascade of immune, hemodynamic, and hormonal events occur that impact normal and abnormal neurologic physiology. During pregnancy, balances in multiple systems must be achieved for pregnancy maintenance. At the end of pregnancy, another cascade of events drive the host micro- and macro-environments toward a new baseline. All of these effects on neurological functioning are poorly appreciated.

Some important issues we will cover deal with pregnancy-mediated systemic immunosuppression, cellular re-education, pregnancy hormonal influences on cellular pathways, and fetal/maternal
Microchimerism — allowing for nests of foreign cells within organs which change the immune landscape of the fetus and the host. In addition, the approaches to surgery, medical treatment, and imaging of pregnant patients will be addressed. The scope of this Research Topic will better define the multiple neurological impacts of pregnancy, identify key biological drivers, and characterize how the pregnancy state improves or impairs normal neurological functioning during disease. A wide variety of neurologic disciplines will be targeted including: oncology, immunology, development, surgery, imaging, chimerism, epilepsy, ethics, survivorship, cognition, psychiatry, sleep, ophthalmology, and pharmacology.

Implementing the current knowledge of reproductive processes may offer new insight into therapeutic neurological advancements. These studies will help to develop clinical and biological correlates between the two fields with a goal to drive innovative multidisciplinary research in the area of reproductive neurology. A critical evaluation of reproductive neurology will engender a greater understanding of the potential interplay of multiple organ systems within the pregnant host during times of illness and wellness. Ultimately, our goal is to aid in the establishment of better clinical guidelines and therapies for neurologists to approach pregnant and reproductive age patients.


Keywords: Neurology, Pregnancy, Fetal cells, Immunology, Microchimerism


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