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J Immunol. 2006 May 15;176(10):6219-24.

TLRs mediate IFN-gamma production by human uterine NK cells in endometrium.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dartmouth Medical School, One Medical Center Drive, Lebanon, NH 03756, USA.


The human endometrium (EM) contains macrophages, NK cells, T cells, B cells, and neutrophils in contact with a variety of stromal and epithelial cells. The interplay between these different cell types and their roles in defense against pathogen invasion in this specialized tissue are important for controlling infection and reproduction. TLRs are a family of receptors able to recognize conserved pathogen-associated molecular patterns. In this study, we determined the expression of TLRs on uterine NK (uNK) cells from the human EM and the extent to which uNK cells responded to TLR agonist stimulation. uNK cells expressed TLRs 2, 3, and 4, and produced IFN-gamma when total human endometrial cells were stimulated with agonists to TLR2 or TLR3 (peptidoglycan or poly(I:C), respectively). Activated uNK cell clones produced IFN-gamma upon stimulation with peptidoglycan or poly(I:C). However, purified uNK cells did not respond directly to TLR agonists, but IFN-gamma was produced by uNK cells in response to TLR stimulation when cocultured with APCs. These data indicate that uNK cells express TLRs and that they can respond to TLR agonists within EM by producing IFN-gamma. These data also indicate that the uNK cells do not respond directly to TLR stimulation, but rather their production of IFN-gamma is dependent upon interactions with other cells within EM.

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