Lachlan Moldenhauer

Dr Lachlan Moldenhauer is a Research associate in the School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health, and Robinson Institute at the University of Adelaide.

Lachlan’s research examines the interactions between the cells of the immune system and immune-controlling molecules, called cytokines, and how they can drive the mother’s immune response to either tolerance or rejection of the fetus.

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Introduction of foreign tissue, such as an organ transplant, into the body usually initiates an immune response leading to rejection of that tissue. Half of the genetic material (known as antigens) of the fetus is derived from the father. As such, the fetus is considered to be a foreign tissue by the mother’s immune system, therefore making it a potential target for immune rejection. In healthy pregnancies the mother’s immune system is tolerant towards these paternal-derived antigens produced by the ‘foreign’ fetus and therefore immune rejection does not occur. However, failure of the mother’s immune system to establish tolerance can result in a number of reproductive health problems including infertility, miscarriage or pre-term birth.

More specifically, he is interested the mechanisms by which paternal antigens within the semen and produced by the fetus and placenta are processed and presented by macrophages and dendritic cells to the maternal T cell repertoire, including regulatory T cells, to establish antigen-specific immune tolerance. In addition, lachlan studies the influence of the uterine cytokine environment, particularly IL10, TGFB and CSF2, on macrophage, dendritic cells and T cell phenotype, function and their role in tolerance induction.

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