The placenta is a unique mixed organ, composed of both maternal and fetal tissues, that is formed only during pregnancy and serves as the key physiological and immunological barrier preventing maternal-fetal transmission of pathogens. Several viruses can circumvent this physical barrier and enter the fetal compartment, resulting in miscarriage, preterm birth, and birth defects, including microcephaly. The mechanisms underlying viral strategies to evade the protective role of placenta are poorly understood. Here, we reviewed the role of trophoblasts and Hofbauer cells in the placenta and have highlighted characteristics of vertical and perinatal infections caused by a wide range of viruses. Moreover, we explored current progress and future opportunities in cellular targets, pathogenesis, and underlying biological mechanisms of congenital viral infections, as well as novel research models and tools to study the placenta.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) and was funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (NRF-2019R1A2C1005961). We would like to thank Rak-Kyun Seong for administrative and technical support.
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
- Congenital infection
- Hofbauer cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases