Minor Histocompatibility Antigens and the Maternal Immune Response to the Fetus During Pregnancy

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The tolerance of the semiallogeneic fetus by the maternal immune system is an important area of research for understanding how the maternal and fetal systems interact during pregnancy to ensure a successful outcome. Several lines of research reveal that the maternal immune system can recognize and respond to fetal minor histocompatibility antigens during pregnancy. Reactions to these antigens arise because of allelic differences between the mother and fetus and have been shown more broadly to play an important role in mediating transplantation outcomes. This review outlines the discovery of minor histocompatibility antigens and their importance in solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplantations, maternal T-cell responses to minor histocompatibility antigens during pregnancy, expression of minor histocompatibility antigens in the human placenta, and the potential involvement of minor histocompatibility antigens in the development and manifestation of pregnancy complications.

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