Perinatal Inflammation

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Perinatal Inflammation

Research Group Head: Associate Professor Tim Moss

perinatal inflammation group logoWe used to think the fetus developed in a sterile environment within the womb but we now know that’s not true: especially for babies born preterm. Infection or inflammation within the uterus is a major risk factor for preterm birth, and our research shows that it affects the fetus too. There are profound changes in development elicited by infection or inflammation within the womb, which result in vulnerability to severe complications including chronic lung disease and brain damage. The inflammation associated with maternal diseases like asthma also has profound effects on the fetus.

We’re investigating how infection and inflammation before birth affect fetal development to alter vulnerability to disease after birth. We’re also working on ways to treat or prevent effects of infection and inflammation in fetal or newborn life.

Research Projects:

  • Understanding the effects of intrauterine inflammation on fetal lung development
  • Understanding the effects of intrauterine infection and inflammation on brain development and postnatal behaviour
  • Finding new ways of inducing lung maturation to prevent lung disease in preterm newborns
  • Using amnion epithelial cells as therapy for chronic lung disease in newborns
  • Identifying the mechanisms behind the effects of maternal asthma on fetal development
  • Understanding the role of early life inflammation in the development of cardiovascular disease
  • Investigating brain development and behaviour of offspring after maternal vaccination during pregnancy


Research group:

Associate Professor Tim Moss (Research Group Head)
Dr Robert Bischof (Senior Postdoctoral Research Scientist)
Dr Alana Westover (Postdoctoral Research Scientist)
Dr Robert Galinsky (NHMRC Early Career Fellow, University of Auckland)
Ms Hui Lu (Research Assistant)
Ms Nikeh Shariatian (Research Assistant)

Selected Recent Publications:

Clifton, V.L., Moss, T.J.M., Wooldridge, A.L., Gatford, K.L., Liravi, B., Kim, D., Muhlhausler, B.S., Morrison, J.L., Davies, A., De Matteo, R., Wallace, M.J., Bischof, R.J. Development of an experimental model of maternal allergic asthma during pregnancy. Journal of Physiology Article in Press.

Nguyen, M.U., Wallace, M.J., Pepe, S., Menheniott, T.J., Moss*, T.J., Burgner, D*. Perinatal inflammation: A common factor in the early origins of cardiovascular disease? Clinical Science, 129 (8), pp. 769-784, 2015

Barton, S.K., Melville, J.M., Tolcos, M., Polglase, G.R., McDougall, A.R.A., Azhan, A., Crossley, K.J., Jenkin, G., Moss, T.J.M. Human Amnion Epithelial Cells Modulate Ventilation-Induced White Matter Pathology in Preterm Lambs. Developmental Neuroscience, 37 (4-5), pp. 338-348, 2105

McDonald, C.A., Melville, J.M., Polglase, G.R., Jenkin, G., Moss, T.J.M. Maintenance of human amnion epithelial cell phenotype in pulmonary surfactant Stem Cell Research and Therapy, 5 (5), art. no. 107, 2014

Nitsos, I., Newnham, J.P., Rees, S.M., Harding, R., Moss, T.J.M. The impact of chronic intrauterine inflammation on the physiologic and neurodevelopmental consequences of intermittent umbilical cord occlusion in fetal sheep. Reproductive Sciences, 21 (5), pp. 658-670, 2014

Galinsky, R., Hooper, S.B., Polglase, G.R., Moss, T.J.M. Intrauterine inflammation alters fetal cardiopulmonary and cerebral haemodynamics in sheep. Journal of Physiology, 591 (20), pp. 5061-5070, 2013

Melville, J.M., Moss, T.J.M. The immune consequences of preterm birth. Frontiers in Neuroscience, (7 MAY), pp. Article 79, 2013

Galinsky, R., Polglase, G.R., Hooper, S.B., Black, M.J., Moss, T.J.M.The consequences of chorioamnionitis: Preterm birth and effects on development. Journal of Pregnancy, 2013, art. no. 412831, 2013

Westover, A.J., Moss, T.J. Effects of intrauterine infection or inflammation on fetal lung development. Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, 39 (9), pp. 824-830, 2012

Westover, A.J., Hooper, S.B., Wallace, M.J., Moss, T.J.M. Prostaglandins mediate the fetal pulmonary response to intrauterine inflammation. American Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, 302 (7), pp. L664-L678, 2012