Update! Watch a recording of this talk.
This talk is an activity from the FEBS Junior Section, an initiative set up by students and young researchers from some of the FEBS Constituent Societies. Each month a Junior Section from one of the participant Societies organizes an online event on either a research or a career topic. This April talk is the fourth event of the new 2023 talk series, has an academic focus, and is organised by HDBMB Junior Section, the junior section of the HDBMB.
Speaker: Dr. Vanda Juranić Lisnić, Faculty of Medicine University of Rijeka, Croatia
Topic: “Viruses, immunity and fertility: Why are we not extinct yet?”
Time: 13 April, 19:00 (CET)
For more information, see the talk summary below and visit Dr. Lisnić webpage.
Herpesviruses are one of the most successful viruses: they have permeated every corner of the world, infected every vertebrate, adapted to numerous tissues and learned how to evade their hosts’ immune system so that once they gain a foothold in the host, they cause lifelong persistent infections. To perform all of these feats the viruses balance between phases of replication and latency. If this fine balance between the virus and host’s response is interrupted, for instance by immune suppression, the virus may cause serious disease involving multiple organs. Especially vulnerable are immunologically suppressed individuals, newborns and pregnant women as their antiviral defenses are poorer than those of the general populace. While investigating models of virus transmission through the placenta in our mouse model of cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease, we observed very strong infection of the ovaries. Although the virus replicated to very high extent in the ovarian tissue, it did not replicate uniformly everywhere: it was constrained to corpora lutea and stroma, while being excluded from ovarian follicles. Corpora lutea are temporary endocrine structures that develop from ovulated follicle and produce the hormone progesterone which maintains pregnancy. Strong infection of the corpora lutea thus resulted in diminished serum progesterone and pregnancy loss. Pregnancy loss, although an unfortunate event, is not nearly as dangerous for the survival of the species as fertility loss which is why we investigated the mechanisms how ovarian follicles resist strong virus infection. Understanding these mechanisms in a virus well adapted to its host may shed light on infections that do cause infertility. In my talk, I will cover several of immunological and cell intrinsic mechanisms protecting ovarian follicles, as well as the impact of CMV on pregnancy maintenance.
The FEBS Junior Section
Want to join this platform for young European life scientists? Learn more about our initiative, check out the Room for the FEBS Junior Section and – if you do not have a junior section yet – read this post about how to set one up!