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Placenta. 2006 Apr;27 Suppl A:S34-9. Epub 2006 Mar 3.

Human decidual NK cells: unique phenotype and functional properties -- a review.

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  • 1INSERM U563, Université Paul Sabatier, Hôpital Purpan, Toulouse, France.

Erratum in

  • Placenta. 2006 Sep-Oct;27(9-10):1034-5.


Human decidual NK cells are massively recruited at the site of embryonic implantation (decidua basalis). They differ in many ways from their peripheral blood NK cell counterparts in terms of gene expression, phenotype and functionality. The major subpopulation of decidual NK cells is CD56(bright) whereas the minor subset is CD56(dim), contrasting with the peripheral blood NK cells whose major subpopulation is CD56(dim). Decidual NK cell cytolytic function is much reduced despite the presence of several activating receptors and the essential machinery required for lysis. Decidual NK cells produce a number of cytokines that are not normally secreted by peripheral blood NK cells. Human decidual NK cell potential functions at the maternal-fetal interface are not yet clearly established but several hypotheses are being evaluated, including control of extravillous invasion, control of uterine vascular remodeling, and local anti-viral activity.

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