The bovine fetus, like that of other species, is a semi-allograft and the regulation of materno-fetal alloimmunity is critical to prevent its immunological rejection. In cattle, a materno-fetal alloimmune response may be beneficial at parturition. It is hypothesized that upregulation of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I on the fetal membranes toward the end of gestation induces a maternal alloimmune response that activates innate immune effector mechanisms, aiding in the loss of the adherence between the fetal membranes and the uterus. Loss of fetal–maternal adherence is pivotal for the timely expulsion of the fetal membranes and the absence (or reduction) of the maternal immune response may lead to retained fetal membranes, a common reproductive disorder of cattle. Currently, there is no effective treatment for retained fetal membranes and a better understanding of materno-fetal alloimmune-assisted separation of the fetal membranes may lead to novel targets for the treatment of retained fetal membranes. In this review, the regulation of materno-fetal alloimmunity during pregnancy in cattle, with a focus on placental MHC class I expression, and the importance of maternal alloimmunity for the timely separation of the fetal membranes, are discussed.
Benedictus, L., Koets, A. P., & Rutten, V. P. M. G. (2015). The role of placental MHC class 1 expression in immune-assisted separation of the fetal membranes in cattle. Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 112, 11-19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jri.2015.05.003