Antibody glycosylation in pregnancy and in newborns: biological roles and implications : Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases

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PATHOGENESIS AND IMMUNE RESPONSE: Edited by Dennis L. Stevens and Dimitri A. Diavatopoulos

Antibody glycosylation in pregnancy and in newborns: biological roles and implications

Rice, Thomas F.a; Holder, Betha; Kampmann, Beateb,c,d

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Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases 33(3):p 225-230, June 2020. | DOI: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000646


Purpose of review 

Glycosylation patterns have the potential to affect the function of antibody, antibody half-life and transplacental transfer from mother to foetus. Here, we review recent advances in our understanding of how glycosylation patterns of antibodies may be altered during pregnancy, vaccination and infection.

Recent findings 

During pregnancy, there is preferential transplacental transfer of natural killer (NK) cell-activating antibodies that are galactosylated and sialylated, against both bacterial and viral antigens. Markers of NK cell function are also associated with a higher abundance of galactosylation and sialylation in respiratory syncytial virus-specific IgG, compared with total IgG, in infants up to 7 months of age which may suggest a role for NK-cell activating antibodies as important mediators of immunity during early infancy. Differential glycosylation patterns have been observed in some respiratory conditions, as increased nongalactosylated antibodies have been associated with the development of chronic inflammatory bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) in preterm infants. Glycosylation patterns in children appear age-dependent, which could modulate the effector function of IgG. The clinical relevance of these findings needs to be established.


Glycosylation plays a key role in mediating antibody function. Glycosylation patterns associated with positive outcomes from infection in mothers and infants could inform the design of the next generation of vaccines for use in pregnancy and infancy.

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Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

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