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A potent myeloid response is rapidly activated in the lungs of premature Rhesus macaques exposed to intra-uterine inflammation.


Up to 40% of preterm births are associated with histological chorioamnionitis (HCA), which leads to elevated levels of pro-inflammatory mediators and microbial products in the amniotic fluid, which come in contact with fetal lungs. Yet, fetal pulmonary immune responses to such exposure remain poorly characterized. To address this gap, we used our established HCA model, in which pregnant Rhesus macaques receive intraamniotic (IA) saline or LPS. IA LPS induced a potent and rapid myeloid cell response in fetal lungs, dominated by neutrophils and monocytes/macrophages. Infiltrating and resident myeloid cells exhibited transcriptional profiles consistent with exposure to TLR ligands, as well as cytokines, notably IL-1 and TNFα. Although simultaneous, in vivo blockade of IL-1 and TNFα signaling did not prevent the inflammatory cell recruitment, it blunted the lung overall inflammatory state reducing communication between, and activation of, infiltrating immune cells. Our data indicate that the fetal innate immune system can mount a rapid multi-faceted pulmonary immune response to in utero exposure to inflammation. These data provide mechanistic insights into the association between HCA and the postnatal lung morbidities of the premature infant and highlight therapeutic potential of inflammatory blockade in the fetus.

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