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J Reprod Immunol. 2009 Nov;82(2):148-57. doi: 10.1016/j.jri.2009.05.003. Epub 2009 Jul 23.

Fetal-maternal HLA-C mismatch is associated with decidual T cell activation and induction of functional T regulatory cells.

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Department of Immunohematology and Blood Transfusion, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands.


Human leukocyte antigen-C (HLA-C) is the only polymorphic classical histocompatibility antigen expressed by fetal trophoblasts at the fetal-maternal interface. Interactions between HLA-C and decidual natural killer (NK) cells may facilitate trophoblast invasion into maternal tissue. Thus far no evidence has been provided that decidual T cells specifically recognize and respond to fetal alloantigens at the fetal-maternal interface. In this study, we show that pregnancies containing a HLA-C mismatched child induce an increased percentage of CD4(+)CD25(dim) activated T cells in decidual tissue. In addition, HLA-C mismatched pregnancies exhibit a decidual lymphocyte response to fetal cells and contain functional CD4(+)CD25(bright) regulatory T cells in decidual tissue, whereas HLA-C matched pregnancies do not. This suggests that decidual T cells specifically recognize fetal HLA-C at the fetal-maternal interface but are prevented from inducing a destructive immune response in uncomplicated pregnancies.

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