Background: Natural Killer (NK) cells are the most abundant lymphocytes in the decidua during early gestation. The interactions of NK cells with the extravillous cytotrophoblast have been associated with a normal spiral artery remodeling process, an essential event for a successful pregnancy. Recent data indicate that alterations in the amount of decidual NK (dNK) cells contribute to the development of preeclampsia (PE). Moreover, genetic studies suggest that Killer Immunoglobulin-like Receptors (KIR) expressed in dNK cells influence the susceptibility to PE. Although dNK cells have been well characterized during early pregnancy, they have been scarcely studied in the third trimester of gestation. The aim of this work was to characterize dNK cells at the last trimester of gestation and to analyze the KIR genotype of healthy and PE women.Methods: Decidual samples were obtained during Caesarean section from control (n = 10) and PE (n = 9) women. Flow cytometric analysis of CD3, CD56, CD16 and CD9 was used to characterize and quantify dNK cells in both groups. Cell surface markers from decidual leukocytes were compared with PBMC from healthy donors.KIR genotyping was performed in genomic DNA (control, n = 86; PE, n = 90) using PCR-SSP.Results: The results indicate that dNK cells persist throughout pregnancy. They represented 20% of total leukocytes in control and PE groups, and they expressed the same cell surface markers (CD3-, CD56+, CD16- and CD9+) as dNK in the first trimester of gestation. There were no significant differences in the percentage of dNK cells between control and PE groups. The analysis of KIR gene frequencies and genotypes was not statistically different between control and PE groups. The ratio of activating to inhibitory genes indicated that the overall inhibitory balance (0.2-0.5) was more frequent in the PE group (control, 31.3% vs PE, 45.5%), and the activating balance (0.6-1.1) was more frequent in the control group (control, 68.6% vs PE, 54.4%). However this difference was not significant.Conclusion: We demonstrated the persistence of dNK cells in PE and control women at the third trimester of pregnancy; these dNK cells had a similar phenotype to those found during early pregnancy. The predominance of a KIR inhibitory balance in the PE group could be associated to the physiopathology of PE. © 2011 Sanchez-Rodriguez et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
E.N., S.-R., S., N.-S., C.A., M.-R., C., M., J.F., R.-A., E., O., … A., C.-P. (2011). Persistence of decidual NK cells and KIR genotypes in healthy pregnant and preeclamptic women: A case-control study in the third trimester of gestation. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. BioMed Central Ltd. (Floor 6, 236 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8HB, United Kingdom). Retrieved from http://www.rbej.com/content/9/1/8 http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=emed13&NEWS=N&AN=51241538