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J Immunol. 2006 Dec 15;177(12):8522-30.

Decidual NK cells alter in vitro first trimester extravillous cytotrophoblast migration: a role for IFN-gamma.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of British Columbia, 2H30-4500 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Abnormal placentation results in either inadequate (consequences: recurrent miscarriage, intrauterine growth restriction, and preeclampsia) or overzealous (consequences: placenta accreta, increta, and percreta) placentation. NK cells dominate in first trimester decidua and probably control extravillous cytotrophoblast (EVT) invasion. We examined this interaction in a novel way, using NK cells and villous explants from concordant first trimester pregnancies cocultured using a new collagen (two-dimensional) model of placentation. Decidual NK (dNK) cells exerted contact-independent inhibition of normal cytotrophoblast migration, associated with changes in the cytotrophoblast expression of metalloproteases-2 and -9, and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1. dNK cells did not affect EVT proliferation and apoptosis, and cell column formation. dNK cell effects were partially reversed by neutralizing Abs against IFN-gamma. We provide ex vivo human evidence of a direct role for dNK in modulating EVT differentiation as they form columns and then migrate from anchoring villi.

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