Spontaneous abortion is a frequent threat affecting 10%–25% of human pregnancies. Psychosocial stress has been suggested to be attributable for pregnancy losses by challenging the equilibrium of systems mandatory for pregnancy maintenance, including the nervous, endocrine, and immune system. Strong evidence indicates that stress-triggered abortion is mediated by adhesion molecules, i.e., intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM1) and leukocyte function associated molecule 1, now being referred to as integrin alpha L (ITGAL), which facilitate recruitment of inflammatory cells to the feto-maternal interface. The neurotrophin beta-nerve growth factor (NGFB), which has been shown to be upregulated in response to stress in multiple experimental settings including in the uterine lining (decidua) during pregnancy, increases ICAM1 expression on endothelial cells. Here, we investigated whether and how NGFB neutralization has a preventive effect on stress-triggered abortion in the murine CBA/J × DBA/2J model. We provide experimental evidence that stress exposure upregulates the frequency of abortion and the expression of uterine NGFB. Further, adhesion molecules ICAM1 and selectin platelet (SELP, formerly P-Selectin) and their ligands ITGAL and SELP ligand (SELPL, formerly P selectin glycoprotein ligand 1) respectively increase in murine deciduas in response to stress. Subsequently, decidual cytokines are biased toward a proinflammatory and abortogenic cytokine profile. Additionally, a decrease of pregnancy protective CD8α decidual cells is present. Strikingly, all such uterine stress responses are abrogated by NGFB neutralization. Hence, NGFB acts as a proximal mediator in the hierarchical network of immune rejection by mediating an abortogenic environment comprised of classical signs of neurogenic inflammation.
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