Immunology

B cells safeguard against premature labor

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Science  06 Jan 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6320, pp. 36
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6320.36-d

B cell failure can cause preterm labor in mice.

PHOTO: ANYAIVANOVA/ISTOCKPHOTO

Around one-third of cases of premature labor are caused by infection and inflammatory responses. B cells are specialized immune cells that should protect from pathogens, but their role in pregnancy is poorly defined. Huang et al. have identified a functionally distinct population of B cells in the choriodecidua (a specialized uterine lining that separates the mother from the fetus) that is associated with preterm labor in women. Mice lacking B cells had diminished levels of progesterone-induced blocking factor 1 (PIBF1) and were also more prone to premature labor after inflammation. But when B cell function was compensated by administering PIBF1, inflammation in the uterus and preterm labor were reduced in the B cell—deficient mice. The cytokine interleukin-33, which normally raises the alarm for inflammation, is responsible for stimulating B cell production of PIBF1. These insights provide therapeutic possibilities for maintaining term pregnancy.

Nat. Med. 10.1038/nm.4244 (2016).

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