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Am J Reprod Immunol. 1999 Nov;42(5):312-20.

Progesterone directly and indirectly affects perforin expression in cytolytic cells.

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Department of Physiology and Immunology, Medical Faculty, University of Rijeka, Croatia.



Decidual lymphocytes (DL) expressing the cytolytic molecule perforin represent approximately 55% of DL in the first trimester of human pregnancy. Progesterone dominates this phase of pregnancy and controls the production of uterine cytokines and growth factors. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of progesterone and progesterone-induced blocking factor (PIBF) on perforin expression in DL and peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL).


Perforin expression was analyzed in PBL and DL incubated either in culture medium or with decidual adherent cells (DAC) and peripheral blood adherent cells (PBAC) and their supernatants with or without progesterone or PIBF. Perforin was detected by flow cytometry in PB and in decidual first trimester pregnancy lymphocytes.


Progesterone in high concentrations directly affects perforin expression in DL but not in PBL. Progesterone in a concentration dependent manner indirectly blocks perforin expression in DL and PBL cultured with adherent cells or their supernatants. PIBF blocked upregulation of perforin expression of DL cultured with DAC, but none of those cultured with PBAC. Similarly, PIBF was inefficient when PBL or DL were cultured with PBAC.


Progesterone present in a high concentration locally at the maternal-fetal interface modulates perforin expression in the first trimester pregnancy DL.

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