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Hum Reprod. 2008 Jan;23(1):144-52. Epub 2007 Oct 18.

Human decidual stromal cells express HLA-G: Effects of cytokines and decidualization.

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  • 1Departamento de Bioquímica, Biología Molecular 3 e Inmunología, Facultad de Medicina, Unidad de Inmunología, Instituto de Biopatología y Medicina Regenerativa, Universidad de Granada, 18012- Granada, Spain.



Decidual stromal cells (DSC) are the main cellular component of the decidua, the maternal tissue in close contact with fetal trophoblast. Although of mesenchymal origin, DSC exert numerous immune functions that seem to be relevant for the immunological relationship between the mother and fetus. HLA-G, an antigen preferentially expressed by trophoblast, appears to participate in the immune tolerance by the mother of the semiallogeneic fetus.


We show by flow cytometry, fluorescence microscopy, western blotting and RT-PCR that DSC isolated and maintained in culture express HLA-G weakly but consistently. We also detected this antigen by flow cytometry in fresh DSC. Interleukin (IL)-10, a cytokine associated with normal pregnancy, increased the expression of HLA-G by DSC (P < 0.00001), whereas IL-2, a cytokine involved in spontaneous abortion, showed no effect. Decidualization by progesterone and cAMP also up-regulated the expression of HLA-G by DSC (P < 0.001). Interferon gamma, a cytokine implicated in the vascular remodelling of the decidua necessary for embryo implantation, also increased the expression of HLA-G by DSC (P < 0.05).


Our results suggest the existence of a network in which hormones together with cytokines regulate the expression of HLA-G by DSC, and that may be of relevance in the maintenance of maternal-fetal tolerance.

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