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Semin Immunol. 2001 Aug;13(4):235-41.

Functions of uterine natural killer cells are mediated by interferon gamma production during murine pregnancy.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada. aashkar@uoguelph.ca


The dominant lymphocytes in healthy human and murine implantation sites are pregnancy-associated uterine natural killer (uNK) cells. These cells produce 90% of pregnancy-induced, uterine interferon (IFN)- gamma, a cytokine that regulates expression of more than 0.5% of the mouse genome. Implantation sites in uNK cell-deficient and IFN- gamma -signal-disrupted mice display anomalies in decidua and its spiral arteries. Reconstitution of uNK cell-deficient females with bone marrow containing normal NK cell progenitors, establishes uNK cells and reverses the anomalies. Grafts from IFN- gamma(-/-)mice are restored uNK cells, but the uNK cells did not reverse the phenotypes. This review focuses on the functions of uNK cell-derived IFN- gamma and the genes that it may regulate in the pregnant uterus.

Copyright 2001 Academic Press.

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