Modulation of cell-mediated immunity during pregnancy in wild bonobos

2024 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Modulation of cell-mediated immunity during pregnancy in wild bonobos​
Behringer, V.; Deimel, C.; Ostner, J.; Fruth, B. & Sonnweber, R.​ (2024) 
Biology Letters20(3) art. 20230548​.​ DOI: 

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Behringer, Verena; Deimel, Caroline; Ostner, Julia; Fruth, Barbara; Sonnweber, Ruth
During pregnancy, the mammalian immune system must simultaneously protect against pathogens while being accommodating to the foreign fetal tissues. Our current understanding of this immune modulation derives predominantly from industrialized human populations and laboratory animals. However, their environments differ considerably from the pathogen-rich, resource-scarce environments in which pregnancy and the immune system co-evolved. For a better understanding of immune modulation during pregnancy in challenging environments, we measured urinary neopterin, a biomarker of cell-mediated immune responses, in 10 wild female bonobos ( Pan paniscus ) before, during and after pregnancy. Bonobos, sharing evolutionary roots and pregnancy characteristics with humans, serve as an ideal model for such investigation. Despite distinct environments, we hypothesized that cell-mediated immune modulation during pregnancy is similar between bonobos and humans. As predicted, neopterin levels were higher during than outside of pregnancy, and highest in the third trimester, with a significant decline post-partum. Our findings suggest shared mechanisms of cell-mediated immune modulation during pregnancy in bonobos and humans that are robust despite distinct environmental conditions. We propose that these patterns indicate shared immunological processes during pregnancy among hominins, and possibly other primates. This finding enhances our understanding of reproductive immunology.
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Biology Letters 
Deutsches Primatenzentrum 
Department for the Ecology of Animal Societies of the Max-Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology
Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior
Centre for Research and Conservation of the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Ouwehand Zoo Foundation
German Primate Center
Leakey Foundation
Audacity Fund
Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature



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