Plgf immunological impact during pregnancy

Loredana Albonici, Monica Benvenuto, Chiara Focaccetti, Loredana Cifaldi, Martino Tony Miele, Federica Limana, Vittorio Manzari, Roberto Bei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


During pregnancy, the mother’s immune system has to tolerate the persistence of paternal alloantigens without affecting the anti‐infectious immune response. Consequently, several mechanisms aimed at preventing allograft rejection, occur during a pregnancy. In fact, the early stages of pregnancy are characterized by the correct balance between inflammation and immune tolerance, in which proinflammatory cytokines contribute to both the remodeling of tissues and to neo‐angiogenesis, thus, favoring the correct embryo implantation. In addition to the creation of a microenvironment able to support both immunological privilege and angiogenesis, the trophoblast invades normal tissues by sharing the same behavior of invasive tumors. Next, the activation of an immunosuppressive phase, characterized by an increase in the number of regulatory T (Treg) cells prevents excessive inflammation and avoids fetal immuno‐mediated rejection. When these changes do not occur or occur incompletely, early pregnancy failure follows. All these events are characterized by an increase in different growth factors and cytokines, among which one of the most important is the angiogenic growth factor, namely placental growth factor (PlGF). PlGF is initially isolated from the human placenta. It is upregulated during both pregnancy and inflammation. In this review, we summarize current knowledge on the immunomodulatory effects of PlGF during pregnancy, warranting that both innate and adaptive immune cells properly support the early events of implantation and placental development. Furthermore, we highlight how an alteration of the immune response, associated with PlGF imbalance, can induce a hypertensive state and lead to the pre‐eclampsia (PE).

Original languageEnglish
Article number8714
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2 2020


  • Flt‐1/VEGFR1
  • Immune modulation
  • PlGF
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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