Effect of the conceptus on uterine natural killer cell numbers and function in the mouse uterus during decidualization.

Herington JL, Bany BM
Biol Reprod. 2007 76 (4): 579-88

PMID: 17151350 · PMCID: PMC2275212 · DOI:10.1095/biolreprod.106.056630

Uterine natural killer (uNK) cells are the most abundant lymphocytes in the uterus during early pregnancy and play a role in spiral arteriole modifications. In the present study, we investigated whether uNK cell populations differed between mouse decidua and deciduoma. Histochemical staining using the Dolichos biflorus agglutinin (DBA) lectin was used to identify uNK cells and classify their stages of maturation. We found differences in the pattern of localization and density of uNK cells between the decidua and deciduoma at Days 2-4 after the onset of decidualization. The cells were more distributed and the densities were significantly greater in the mesometrial region of the decidua than in the deciduoma. Using double-labeling for DBA lectin binding and bromodeoxyuridine incorporation, we found that the higher number of uNK cells in the decidua was not due to an increase in uNK cell proliferation. Western blot analyses revealed that the increase in uNK cell number was accompanied by significant increases in the levels of interferon gamma (IFNG) and prointerleukin 18 when a conceptus was present. Vascular morphometry revealed that modifications of the spiral arterioles occurred in the mesometrial decidua but not in the deciduoma, which could be attributed to the differences observed in uNK cell number and IFNG production. The present study demonstrates that differences exist in uNK cell populations between the decidua and deciduoma, providing evidence that the conceptus generates signals that regulate uNK cell number and function in the uterus during implantation.

MeSH Terms (17)

Animals Cell Count Cell Differentiation Cell Proliferation Embryo, Mammalian Embryo Implantation Female Interferon-gamma Interleukin-15 Interleukin-18 Killer Cells, Natural Mice Mice, Inbred Strains Models, Biological Pregnancy Pregnancy, Animal Uterus

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