Morgan Peltier, PhD
I am a reproductive biologist with extensive experience using animal models, cell and tissue culture, protein purification, and epidemiological methods to perform research in obstetrics and gynecology. Most of my research has concentrated on evaluating the immunological mechanisms by which a fetus evades the maternal immune system in order for pregnancy to occur, as well as the consequences of the disruption in this unique immune–endocrine relationship.
Inflammation at the maternal–fetal interface is highly correlated with pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia, preterm birth, preterm premature rupture of membranes, and placental abruption.
There is also emerging evidence that placental inflammation increases the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A better understanding of the factors that enhance and inhibit placental inflammation may result in improved methods for preventing and treating these adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Our main area of focus has been determining the ability of environmental toxins to enhance the inflammatory response to ascending infection and the role of these toxins in increasing risk for preterm birth.
We found that two common persistent organic pollutants—2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)—enhanced the production of proinflammatory cytokines and/or prostaglandins by Escherichia coli-treated placental explant cultures.
Our group recently conducted a clinical study that found women with high concentrations of PBDE-47, a flame retardant, in their peripheral plasma may be at increased risk for a pregnancy with preterm birth. We are now completing a large, National Institutes of Health-funded study to confirm these findings with prospectively collected samples.
We also intend to expand this research to determine if maternal exposure to PBDEs during pregnancy increases the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in offspring. PBDEs are thought to function in part by antagonizing the thyroid hormones. Results from preliminary studies, conducted in collaboration with Dr. Darios Getahun at Kaiser Permanente Southern California, suggest that hypothyroidism during pregnancy increases the risk of autism and ADHD in offspring. We plan to further study this correlation.
Education and Training
- PhD, University of Florida, 2000
- MS, University of Florida, 1996
120 Mineola Blvd
Mineola, NY 11501