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J Immunol. 2001 Mar 15;166(6):3641-4.

Cutting edge: regulation of uterine NKT cells by a fetal class I molecule other than CD1.

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  • 1Reproductive Immunology Laboratory, Swedish Medical Center, Denver CO 80110, USA.


The peri-implantation uterus contains an expanded population of NK1.1(+) V alpha 14(+) TCR(int) (NKT) lymphocytes. Although these cells bear the above features in common with other NKT cells populations in thymus, bone marrow, liver, and spleen, they differ from these other populations in terms of an altered V beta repertoire and absence of a CD4(+) component. In this study, we demonstrate that the uterine population also differs from other NKT cell populations because they recognize a class I/class I-like molecule other than CD1, whereas most previously described V alpha 14(+) NKT cells are CD1-restricted. Moreover, the class I/class I-like molecule leading to the uterine NKT cell expansion may be supplied by the fetus. These data demonstrate a novel mechanism whereby the fetus is capable of modulating the maternal immune system.

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