The imbalance of the Th17/Treg axis following equine ascending placental infection

C. E. Fedorka, H. El-Sheikh Ali, O. F. Walker, K. E. Scoggin, P. Dini, S. C. Loux, M. H.T. Troedsson, B. A. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Ascending placentitis is a leading cause of abortion in the horse, but adaptive immune response to this disease is unknown. To evaluate this, sub-acute placentitis was experimentally-induced via trans-cervical inoculation of S. zooepidemicus, and endometrium and chorioallantois was collected 8 days later (n = 6 inoculated/n = 6 control). The expression of transcripts relating to Th1, Th2, Th17, and Treg maturation was assessed via RNASeq. IHC of transcription factors relating to each subtype in the same tissues (Th1: TBX21, Th2: GATA3, Th17: IRF4, Treg: FOXp3). An immunoassay was utilized to assess circulating cytokines (Th1: IFNg, IL-2; Th2: IL-4, IL-5; Th17: IL-17, IL-6; Treg: IL-10, GM-CSF). An increase in Th1 and Th17-related transcripts were noted in the chorioallantois, although no alterations were seen in the endometrium. Th2 and Treg-related transcripts altered in a dysregulated manner, as some transcripts increased in expression while others decreased. Immunolocalization of Th1, Th2, and Th17 cells was increased in diseased chorioallantois, while no Treg cells were noted in the diseased tissue. Secreted cytokines relating to Th1 (IFNg, IL-2), Th17 (IL-6), Th2 (IL-5), and Treg (IL-10) populations increased in maternal circulation eight days after inoculation. In conclusion, the Th1/Th17 response to ascending placentitis occurs primarily in the chorioallantois, indicating the adaptive immune response to occur in fetal derived placental tissue. Additionally, ascending placentitis leads to an increase in the helper T cell populations (Th1/Th17/Th2) while decreasing the Treg response. This increase in Th17-related responses alongside a diminishing Treg-related response may precede or contribute to fetal demise, abortion, or preterm labor.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103268
JournalJournal of Reproductive Immunology
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Adaptive immune response
  • Equine
  • Placentitis
  • Th17
  • Treg

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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