J Exp Med. 2022 May 2;219(5):e20211493. doi: 10.1084/jem.20211493. Epub 2022 Apr 13.
Pregnancy is recognized as a spontaneously acquired state of immunological tolerance by the mother to her semi-allogeneic fetus, but it is a major cause of allosensitization in candidates for organ transplantation. This sensitization, assessed by the presence of anti-HLA IgG, contributes to sex disparity in access to transplantation and increases the risk for rejection and graft loss. Understanding this dual tolerance/sensitization conundrum may lead to new strategies for equalizing access to transplantation among sexes and improving transplant outcomes in parous women. Here, we review the clinical evidence that pregnancy results in humoral sensitization and query whether T cell responses are sensitized. Furthermore, we summarize preclinical evidence on the effects of pregnancy on fetus-specific CD4+ conventional, regulatory, and CD8+ T cells, and humoral responses. We end with a discussion on the impact of the divergent effects that pregnancy has upon alloantigen re-encounter in the context of solid organ transplantation, and how these insights point to a therapeutic roadmap for controlling pregnancy-dependent allosensitization.