Patricia Speck


The advent of molecular science has opened research into the role of the immune system in regulating growth and development. The primary functions of the immune system are to maintain the integrity of the organism and to eliminate any foreign invaders. In the case of mammals, pregnancy produces a paradox. The developing embryo is a foreign body; yet, it is nurtured rather than being rejected. The immune system is fundamental to the operation of this unique interaction of maternal and fetal cells. The ultimate paradox is that if maternal and paternal immunity are too similar, pregnancy fails. Cytokines, recently discovered chemical messengers, are intimately associated with the immune system, functioning as regulators of development according to specific time and space. Our knowledge regarding the number and nature of growth factors and cytokines is increasing. Regulation of these factors is critical to proper growth and development. Interruption of any part of this complex system causes pregnancy to fail. Mammalian pregnancy is a unique, intricately designed system, a tribute to a Master Designer.


Major histocompatibility complex (MHC), interferon (IFN), antigen presenting cells (APC), interleukin (IL), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), cytokine, colony stimulating factor (CSF), isotope switch, metalloprotreins, transforming growth factor (TGF), apoptosis, cytotrophoblast, epidermal growth factor (EGF), integrin, low density lipoprotein (LDL), natural killer cell (NK), ligand, polymorphic, trophoblast, syncytium, monomorphic, allograft, adhesion factor, transferrin, trophectoderm, fibronectin, trophoblast-lymphocyte cross reactive antigen (TLX)


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