Interleukin-10 (IL-10) is an anti-inflammatory and immune-deviating cytokine expressed in the endometrium and placenta. IL-10 null mutant (IL-10−/−) mice have been employed to examine the role of IL-10 in regulating immune events in early pregnancy and its significance in implantation and pregnancy success. The inflammatory response elicited in endometrial tissue by insemination was amplified in IL-10−/− mice, with a 66% increase in leukocytes in the endometrial stroma on Day 3 of pregnancy. Despite this, no evidence of abnormal type 1/type 2 skewing was seen in T-lymphocytes from lymph nodes draining the uterus. On Day 18 of gestation, IL-10−/− females mated with IL-10−/− males had 15% more implantation sites and 27% more viable fetuses than pregnant wild-type (IL-10 / ) mice. Placental weight was unaffected, but fetal weight and the fetal:placental weight ratio were higher in IL-10−/− pregnancies. Similar data were obtained in allogeneic pregnancies when IL-10−/− females were mated with major-histocompatibility complex (MHC) disparate IL-10−/− males. Pups delivered by IL-10−/− mothers had increased birth weight and followed an altered growth trajectory, with growth impairment evident from early postnatal life into adulthood, which was reflected in alterations in body composition at 14 wk of age. This study shows that although IL-10 is not essential for maternal immune tolerance or successful pregnancy irrespective of MHC disparity in the fetus, maternal IL-10 is a determinant of growth trajectory in progeny in utero and after birth.
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