Sylvie Girard, PhD


Université de Montréal

Centre de recherche du CHU Ste-Justine

Département d'Obstétrique-Gynécologie

3175, chemin de la Côte Sainte-Catherine
Montréal (Québec)  H3T 1C5

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Phone: 514 345-4931, poste 2448

Research interests:

Premature birth and intrauterine growth restriction are important pathologies of pregnancy associated with abnormal function of the placenta and having negative effects on the fetus, affecting primarily brain development. My laboratory is interested in understanding the role of inflammation/infection on the maternal-fetal interface, particularly the placenta, leading to these pathological pregnancies and increasing the incidence of neurodevelopmental disorders. Our work focuses on non-pathogenic inflammatory mediators (namely alarmins or damage-associated molecular pattern, DAMPs), the central goal being to determine their role at the maternal-fetal interface and the long-term impact on child development following prenatal exposure to alarmins and inflammation. Globally, our objective is to get a better understanding of the mechanisms linking prenatal inflammation, placental dysfunction and pathological pregnancies in order to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies targeting the placenta to protect the newborn.

Recent results:

We study the possibility to use alarmines, alone or combined with other inflammatory mediators, as diagnostic markers to facilitate the identification of pregnancy at high-risk of pathologies (such as intrauterine growth retardation or premature labor). We recently reported that the levels of several alarmins are elevated in the maternal circulation during pregnancies presenting with at least one of these pathologies, which demonstrate the potential of using alarmins as markers to identify high-risk pregnancies. Alongside this work, we study the effects of alarmins on the placenta since, aside from being potential markers, alarmins can also affects cell function and are a plausible cause of placental dysfunction. Using in vitro/ex vivo technics on the human placenta, we investigated the impact of alarmins on the trophoblast (the main cell type of the placenta) and Hofbauer cells (placental resident fetal macrophage). We determined that alarmins induced inflammation and modulated cell function, primarily in the trophoblast, leading to effects similar to those observed in human pathological pregnancies (ex. decreased hormones production, cell death, etc.). We also use animal models in order to evaluate the long-term effects of prenatal exposure to alarmins and inflammation, with a special interest for neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and cerebral palsy. The combined use of animal and human models is also use to test new therapeutic strategies, targeting inflammation, to minimise the impact on the placenta and fetus.

Lab members: 



Email address

Ines Boufaied

Research assistant

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Marie-Eve Brien

MSc student 

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Julia Palacios

MSc student

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Agnes Ditisheim

MSc student

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Mathieu Nadeau-Vallée

PhD student This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Publication list:

Selected publications

Nadeau-Vallée M, Obari D, Quiniou C, Olson D, Girard S, Chemtob S. A critical role of interleukin-1 in preterm labor, Cytokine and Growth Factor Reviews, In press.

Girard S, Sebire G. Transplacental transfer of interleukin-1 receptor agonist and antagonist following maternal immune activation. Am J Reprod Immunol, 2016; 75(1):8-12.

Nadeau-Vallée M, Quiniou C, Palacios J, Hou X, Sanchez M, Madaan A, Leimert K, Boudreault A, Erfani A, Duhamel F, Rivera JC, Olson D, Girard S, Chemtob S. Novel non-competitive interleukin-1 receptor biased ligand prevents infection- and inflammation-induced preterm birth, J Immunol, 2015; 195(7):3402-3415.

Girard S, Heazell AEP, Derricott H, Allan SM, Sibley CP, Abrahams VM, Jones RL. Circulating cytokines and alarmins associated with placental inflammation in high-risk pregnancies. American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 2014; 72(4):422-434.

Girard S, Murray KN, Rothwell NJ, Metz GAS, Allan SM. Long-term functional recovery and compensation after brain injury. Behavioural Brain Research, 2014; 270:18-28.

Potter JA, Garg M, Girard S, Abrahams VM. Viral ssRNA induces a trophoblast pro-inflammatory and antiviral response in a TLR8-dependent and –independent manner. Biology of Reproduction, In press.

Murray KN, Girard S, Holmes WM, Parkes LM, Williams SR, Parry-Jones AR, Allan SM. Systemic inflammation impairs cerebrovascular function through endothelin-dependent mechanisms in cerebral ischemia. Stroke, 2014; 45(11): 3412-3419.

Girard S, Brough D, Lopez-Castejon G, Giles J, Rothwell NJ, Allan SM. Microglia and macrophages differentially modulate cell death after brain injury caused by oxygen-glucose deprivation in organotypic brain slices. GLIA, 2013; 61(5):813-24.

Girard S, Sebire H, Brochu ME, Briota S, Sarret P, Sébire G. Postnatal administration of IL-1Ra exerts neuroprotective effects following perinatal brain damage. Brain, Behavior and Immunity, 2012; 26(8): 1331-9.

Girard S, Tremblay L, Lepage M, Sébire G. Early detection of placental inflammation by MRI enabling protection by clinically relevant IL-1Ra administration. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2012; 206:358 e1-9.

Girard S, Sébire G, Kadhim H. Proinflammatory orientation of the IL-1 system and downstream induction of MMP-9 in the pathophysiology of human perinatal white matter damage. Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology, 2010; 69(11): 1116-29.

Girard S, Tremblay L, Lepage M, Sébire G. IL-1 receptor antagonist protects against placental and neurodevelopmental defects induced by maternal inflammation. Journal of Immunology, 2010; 184(7): 3997-4005.

Girard S, Kadhim H, Beaudet N, Sarret P, Sébire G. Developmental motor deficits induced by combined fetal exposure to lipopolysaccharide and early neonatal hypoxia/ischemia: a novel animal model for cerebral palsy in very premature infants. Neuroscience, 2009; 158:673-682.

Roy M, Girard S, Larouche A, Kadhim H, Sébire G. TNF-a system response in a rat model of very preterm brain injuries induced by lipopolysaccharide and/or hypoxia-ischemia. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2009; 201: 493.e1-10.


 Fellowship from the CIHR (Canadian Institute of Health Research); 2011-13
Y.W. (Charlie) Loke Award for Early Career Researchers, International Federation of Placenta Associations (IFPA); 2013
Career Development Award, University of Manchester, UK; 2013
Investing in Success Grant, University of Manchester, UK; 2012
Researcher training award, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, UK; 2012
Thesis of the year (Life Sciences), Université de Sherbrooke, Qc, Canada; 2011
PhD Scholarship, CIHR (Canadian Institute of Health Research); 2009-12
PhD Scholarship from the FRSQ; 2008-11
PhD award from the Foundation of Stars; 2008