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Hum Reprod. 2011 Mar;26(3):517-26. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deq381. Epub 2011 Jan 11.

Differential actions of glycodelin-A on Th-1 and Th-2 cells: a paracrine mechanism that could produce the Th-2 dominant environment during pregnancy.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong, China.



The maternal-fetal interface has a unique immunological response towards the implanting placenta. It is generally accepted that a T-helper type-2 (Th-2) cytokine prevailing environment is important in pregnancy. The proportion of Th-2 cells in the peripheral blood and decidua is significantly higher in pregnant women in the first trimester than in non-pregnant women. Glycodelin-A (GdA) is a major endocrine-regulated decidual glycoprotein thought to be related to fetomaternal defence. Yet the relationship between its immunoregulatory activities and the shift towards Th-2 cytokine profile during pregnancy is unclear.


GdA was immunoaffinity purified from human amniotic fluid. T-helper, T-helper type-1 (Th-1) and Th-2 cells were isolated from the peripheral blood. The viability of these cells was studied by XTT assay. Immunophenotyping of CD4/CD294, cell death and GdA-binding were determined by flow cytometry. The mRNA expression, surface expression and secretion of Fas/Fas ligand (FasL) were determined by quantitative polymerase chain reaction, flow cytometry and ELISA, respectively. The activities of caspase-3, -8 and -9 were measured. The phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK), p38 and, c-Jun N-terminal kinase was determined by western blotting.


Although GdA bound to both Th-1 and Th-2 cells, it had differential actions on the two cell-types. GdA induced cell death of the Th-1 cells but not the Th-2 cells. The cell death was mediated through activation of caspase -3, -8 and -9 activities. GdA up-regulated the expression of Fas and inhibited ERK activation in the Th-1 cells, which might enhance the vulnerability of the cells to cell death caused by a trophoblast-derived FasL.


The data suggest that GdA could be an endometrial factor that contributes to the Th-2/Th-1 shift during pregnancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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