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Pathogenesis of viral infections during pregnancy.

SUMMARYViral infections during pregnancy are associated with significant adverse perinatal and fetal outcomes. Pregnancy is a unique immunologic and physiologic state, which can influence control of virus replication, severity of disease, and vertical transmission. The placenta is the organ of the maternal-fetal interface and provides defense against microbial infection while supporting the semi-allogeneic fetus via tolerogenic immune responses. Some viruses, such as cytomegalovirus, Zika virus, and rubella virus, can breach these defenses, directly infecting the fetus and having long-lasting consequences. Even without direct placental infection, other viruses, including respiratory viruses like influenza viruses and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, still cause placental damage and inflammation. Concentrations of progesterone and estrogens rise during pregnancy and contribute to immunological adaptations, placentation, and placental development and play a pivotal role in creating a tolerogenic environment at the maternal-fetal interface. Animal models, including mice, nonhuman primates, rabbits, and guinea pigs, are instrumental for mechanistic insights into the pathogenesis of viral infections during pregnancy and identification of targetable treatments to improve health outcomes of pregnant individuals and offspring.

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