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J Reprod Immunol. 1981 Dec;3(6):323-31.

The expression of major histocompatibility antigens by human chorionic villi.


Frozen sections of human placentae taken at selected stages throughout gestation were stained with monoclonal antibodies to HLA-A, B, C and DR antigens, using an indirect immunoperoxidase technique. No staining of villous trophoblastic tissue was detected. Antibody to HLA-A, B, and C antigens clearly stained membranous elements of the villous stroma. Antibody to HLA-DR antigens stained rare, elongated cells of the villous stroma in the term placenta. Monoclonal antibodies to syncytiotrophoblast membrane were used as a control. This antigen distribution was confirmed by absorption of these monoclonal antibodies in an indirect radioimmunoassay. Adult spleen homogenate gave much stronger absorption than a trophoblast membrane preparation with antibodies to HLA-A, B, C or DR antigens. The opposite absorption pattern was observed with the anti-trophoblast monoclonal antibodies. Detergent solubilisation did not affect the absorption capacity of trophoblast membrane for HLA-A, B, C or DR antigens. Maternal antibody could be eluted from trophoblastic areas of term placental sections by washing at physiological pH, but this did not effect the binding of monoclonal antibodies. Thus the HLA antigens were not masked by preformed maternal alloantibody. These observations confirm that chorionic villous trophoblast does not express detectable HLA antigen. This may be the principal reason for the lack of rejection of the fetal allograft.

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