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Hum Reprod. 1996 Oct;11(10):2257-62.

Sex steroid regulation of leukocyte traffic in human decidua.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Edinburgh, UK.


Endometrial leukocyte subpopulations vary over the reproductive cycle, but no data exist on the mechanism regulating their recruitment into uterine tissue. This study has evaluated the role of progesterone in the recruitment of selected leukocyte populations in early pregnancy decidua. Decidua was collected from women in early pregnancy at the time of vacuum aspiration of the uterus 6, 12, 24 and 36 h after taking 200 mg mifepristone (RU486). Standard immunohistochemical techniques were employed to demonstrate the selected leukocyte populations in decidual tissue and these were analysed using imaged analysis. Fresh decidua was incubated in medium for 24 h and supernatants assayed for interleukin (IL-8) (neutrophil chemotactic factor) and MCP-1 (monocyte chemoattractant protein-1) content. Analysis of variance demonstrated a significant increase in tissue monocyte number in decidua 12-36 h after mifepristone administration. No significant changes in other leukocyte subpopulations were observed. Decidua IL-8 concentrations were significantly increased (P = 0.019) 6 h after mifepristone and decidual MCP-1 concentration rose (non-significant) and fell significantly (P = 0.029) between 6 and 12 h after mifepristone. Progesterone withdrawal may initiate a local cascade of events involving inflammatory mediators which in turn are responsible for the influx of monocytes. This influx may be essential in the process of shedding of endometrium or decidua since monocytes and neutrophils are important sources of proteases and collagenases. Furthermore, these cells are potential local sources of immunomodulatory cytokines.

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