Immunology of Pregnancy 2013

Indexed in: Book Citation Index, Science Edition, EBSCO.

Since a September, 1992, Nature article which read: “Can there be life without LIF?”, researchers now realize that the maternal immune system is both a foe (it can reject the conception) and a ...
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Part E: The Role of Cytotoxic Natural Killer (NK) Cells and Regulatory NK Cells in Pregnancy

Pp. 578-591 (14)

Shigeru Saito, Tomoko Shima, Akitoshi Nakashima and Yi Lin


During the early phases of pregnancy, natural killer (NK) cells are the predominant lymphoid cells in the uterus. Uterine NK (uNK; decidual NK) cells contribute to vascular formation and placentation, and play an important role in induction of tolerance toward the fetus allograft by interaction with regulatory T (Treg) cells, dendritic cells (DCs) and CD14+ monocytic cells.

On the other hand, uNK cells have been shown to induce abortion by attacking the fetus or Placenta.We propose that CD25+IL-10+NK cells play a pivotal role in successful pregnancy and granulysin+ NK cells attack extra-villous trophoblasts (EVTs), causing their death due to apoptosis. A deeper understanding of the balance between cytotoxic NK cells and regulatory NK cells during pregnancy may increase understanding of normal pregnancy and complicated pregnancy.


Natural killer (NK) cells, uterine NK cells, regulatory T (Treg) cells, NK cells, cytotoxic NK cells, regulatory NK cells, normal pregnancy, complicated pregnancy, Toll-like receptors (TLRs), CD16-CD56brightNK cells, Granulysin, indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenase (IDO), CLTA-4, thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), unexplained recurrent miscarriage patients.


Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Toyama, Toyama 930-0194, Japan.