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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Jan 18;97(2):740-4.

Involvement of decidual Valpha14 NKT cells in abortion.

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CREST (Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology) Project and Department of Molecular Immunology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Japan.


The immunological mechanisms that regulate abortion are largely unknown. Here, we found that a distinct subset of lymphocytes, Valpha14 NKT cells expressing an invariant antigen receptor encoded by Valpha14/Jalpha281 and Vbeta7 segments, accumulated in the decidua during pregnancy and provoked abortion upon stimulation with alpha-galactosylceramide (alpha-GalCer), a specific ligand for Valpha14 NKT cells. The alpha-GalCer-mediated abortion was not observed in Valpha14 NKT-, IFN-gamma-, tumor necrosis factor alpha-, or perforin-knock-out mice and appeared to be due to the degeneration of embryonic trophoblasts mediated by the activated Valpha14 NKT cells whose perforin-dependent killing and production of IFN-gamma and tumor necrosis factor alpha were essential. The possible role of the decidual Valpha14 NKT cells in the pathogenesis of abortion is discussed.

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