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J Immunol. 1994 Nov 15;153(10):4427-35.

Screening for cytokine messenger ribonucleic acids in purified human decidual lymphocyte populations by the reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction.

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Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.


At the time of human embryo implantation, large numbers of maternal CD56brightCD16- NK cells appear in the uterus. These unusual lymphocytes are believed to control the migration and differentiation of highly invasive fetally derived trophoblast cells, which infiltrate into the maternal uterus to remodel the spiral arteries during the first trimester. One possible mechanism of control is by cytokine production. In this study, highly purified (> 99%) populations of first trimester decidual CD56brightCD16- NK cells and CD3+ T lymphocytes were obtained by using a FACS. These cells were examined by reverse transcriptase PCR for their expression of mRNAs for the following cytokines: granulocyte-macrophage (GM)-CSF, CSF-1, TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, TGF-beta 1, leukemia-inhibitory factor (LIF), and IL-2. Then, the expression was compared with that of resting PBL. The identity of the PCR products was verified by Southern blotting and hybridization with cytokine-specific probes. Both decidual CD56brightCD16- NK cells and CD3+ T cells were found to express mRNA for CSF-1, TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma TGF-beta 1, and LIF, but GM-CSF mRNA was detected only in CD56bright NK cells. IL-2 mRNA was detected in only some decidual T cell samples, and then only after at least two rounds of amplification. In contrast, peripheral blood CD56brightCD16- NK cells, CD56dimCD16+ NK cells, and CD3+ T cells expressed mRNA only for TNF-alpha and TGF-beta 1, but not for GM-CSF, CSF-1, IFN-gamma, LIF, or IL-2. These results suggest that both decidual NK cells and decidual T cells produce a variety of cytokines that may be involved in the control of trophoblast migration and differentiation during pregnancy.

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