Maternal-driven immune education in offspring

Krist Antunes Fernandes, Ai Ing Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Maternal environmental exposures, particularly during gestation and lactation, significantly influence the immunological development and long-term immunity of offspring. Mammalian immune systems develop through crucial inputs from the environment, beginning in utero and continuing after birth. These critical developmental windows are essential for proper immune system development and, once closed, may not be reopened. This review focuses on the mechanisms by which maternal exposures, particularly to pathogens, diet, and microbiota, impact offspring immunity. Mechanisms driving maternal-offspring immune crosstalk include transfer of maternal antibodies, changes in the maternal microbiome and microbiota-derived metabolites, and transfer of immune cells and cytokines via the placenta and breastfeeding. We further discuss the role of transient maternal infections, which are common during pregnancy, in providing tissue-specific immune education to offspring. We propose a “maternal-driven immune education” hypothesis, which suggests that offspring can use maternal encounters that occur during a critical developmental window to develop optimal immune fitness against infection and inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-302
Number of pages15
JournalImmunological Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


  • hygiene hypothesis
  • immune education
  • infection
  • maternal-offspring
  • microbiota
  • tissue memory


Dive into the research topics of 'Maternal-driven immune education in offspring'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this