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Eur J Immunol. 2009 Aug;39(8):2203-14. doi: 10.1002/eji.200838844.

DC within the pregnant mouse uterus influence growth and functional properties of uterine NK cells.

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Institute of Systemic Inflammation Research, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany.


The vascular addressins mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule-1, P-selectin and ICAM-1 permit alpha(4)beta(7)-integrin-expressing DC, especially those of the myeloid lineage (CD11c(+)CD11b(+) DC), to access the pregnant mouse uterus. Injection of blocking monoclonal antibodies against mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule-1 in P-selectin(-/-) mice or experimental approaches with beta7-integrin(-/-) or ICAM-1(-/-) mice revealed that limited access or absence of CD11c(+)CD11b(+) DC at the maternal/fetal interface negatively affects the frequency, size and functional properties of uterine NK (uNK) cells. Adoptive transfer of DC obtained from WT mice into beta7-integrin(-/-) mice abrogates these effects and emphasizes the importance of DC in uNK cell differentiation. Interestingly, those implantation sites lacking CD11c(+)CD11b(+) DC are characterized by decreased IL-15 and IL-12 mRNA and/or protein levels. Chronic administration of IL-15 in these mice gives rise to uNK cell numbers and size comparable to those of WT mice, whereas additional injection of IL-12 positively affects the IFN-gamma expression of uNK cells. Real-time RT-PCR and protein arrays performed with isolated uterine DC underline the role of DC as a source of IL-15 and IL-12 in the pregnant mouse uterus.

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