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Am J Reprod Immunol. 1999 Apr;41(4):239-44.

The role of gamma/delta T cell receptor positive cells in pregnancy.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University Medical School of Pecs, Hungary.



Due to the lack of classical HLA antigens on the trophoblast, fetal antigens are possibly presented in a non major histocompatibility complex (MHC) restricted way. Decidual gammadelta T cells, which significantly increase in number during pregnancy, might play a role in recognition of fetal antigens and also in determining the quality of the response to these antigens. Our study was aimed at investigating the role of this cell population in progesterone-dependent immunomodulation.


Peripheral lymphocytes from healthy pregnant women and from habitual aborters were tested by immunocytochemistry for the presence of gamma/delta T cell receptor (TCR) and progesterone receptor. To investigate the effect of treatment with a pan anti gamma/delta antibody, lymphocytes were incubated for 3 hr with the antibody, and then interleukin (IL)-10, IL-12 and progesterone-induced blocking factor (PIBF) expression (by immuno-cytochemistry) as well as natural killer (NK) cell activity were determined.


In peripheral blood of healthy pregnant women the percentage of gamma/delta TCR+ cells was significantly higher (P < 0.001) than in that of recurrent aborters or of non-pregnant individuals. Ninety-seven percent of gamma/delta TCR+ pregnancy lymphocytes expressed progesterone receptor. Binding of a specific antibody to the gamma/delta TCR inhibited PIBF- as well as IL-10 production, whereas it increased NK activity and IL-12 expression.


These data suggest the role of gamma/delta TCR-bearing lymphocytes in progesterone-dependent immunomodulation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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