Sylvie Girard, PhD
Assistant professor, Université de Montréal
Pregnancy complications (i.e. preterm birth, intrauterine growth restriction or preeclampsia) are important pathologies of pregnancy associated with abnormal function of the placenta. These have important negative effects on the developing fetus, affecting primarily brain development but also increasing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases in affected newborns. My laboratory is interested in understanding the role of inflammation, occurring during pregnancy, on the maternal-fetal interface, particularly the placenta, leading to these pathological pregnancies and increasing the incidence of neurodevelopmental disorders. Our work focuses on non-pathogenic inflammatory mediators (namely alarmins or damage-associated molecular pattern, DAMPs), such as uric acid and HMGB1), in order to to determine their role at the maternal-fetal interface, effects on the placenta and the long-term impact on child development. Alongside, we also study pregnancy complications in humans in order to understand the changes in the maternal immune system in relation with placental dysfunction leading to the deleterious impact on the fetus. Globally, our objective is to get a better understanding of the mechanisms linking prenatal inflammation, placental dysfunction and pathological pregnancies in order to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies targeting the placenta to protect the newborn.