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J Reprod Immunol. 2007 Dec;76(1-2):40-4. Epub 2007 May 4.

NK cells and pre-eclampsia.

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  • 1Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK.


The immunological interaction between the mother and fetus has classically been thought of as one between paternal antigen and maternal T cells. However, the MHC antigen expression on human trophoblast and the immune cell populations present in the decidua suggest that this interaction primarily involves decidual NK cells rather than T cells, and this is supported by new functional studies. It is becoming apparent also that the maternal systemic immune response in pregnancy (Th1/Th2 shift) primarily involves NK cells. Aberrant NK cell activation both locally in the decidua and systemically in the maternal blood may be the cause of pre-eclampsia.

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