CD3- leukocytes present in the human uterus during early placentation: phenotypic and morphologic characterization of the CD56++ population.

28 Aug 2017

In this study, the CD3- LGL/NK cells present in the pregnant human uterus have been characterized. Phenotypic and morphologic analyses of decidual LGL revealed many similarities to the minor CD56bright+, CD16- subset in peripheral blood, but there were some important differences. The relative surface density of CD56+ is greatly increased on decidual LGL to 22x that found on the majority of CD56+ peripheral blood NK cells. The CD56bright+ cells in decidua show LGL morphology, whereas in peripheral blood, they are mainly agranular. Proliferation of CD56+ cells occurs predominantly during the nonpregnant secretory (luteal) phase, indicating these CD56+ uterine LGL do not migrate as terminally differentiated cells. The appearance of CD56+ cells was examined at the ultrastructural level using immunoelectron microscopy. Cells with phenotypic characteristics of decidual LGL occur in a higher percentage (1.11%) in the peripheral blood of women of reproductive age than in men (0.66%). On the basis of these results, it is proposed that the CD56bright+ uterine leukocytes represent a distinctive, hormonally regulated subset possibly adapted to control human placentation.