Immune regulation at the maternal-fetal interface is complex due to conflicting immunological objectives: protection of the fetus from maternal pathogens and prevention of immune-mediated rejection of the semiallogeneic fetus and placenta. Interferon (IFN) signaling plays an important role in restricting congenital infections as well as in the physiology of healthy pregnancies. In this review, we discuss the antiviral and pathogenic effects of type I IFN (IFN-α, IFN-β), type II IFN (IFN-γ), and type III IFN (IFN-λ) during pregnancy, with an emphasis on mouse and non-human primate models of congenital Zika virus infection. In the context of these animal model systems, we examine the role of IFN signaling during healthy pregnancy. Finally, we review mechanisms by which dysregulated type I IFN responses contribute to poor pregnancy outcomes in humans with autoimmune disease, including interferonopathies and systemic lupus erythematosus.
- Zika virus
- systemic lupus erythematosus