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Keywords:

  • Endometrium;
  • epithelium;
  • granulated lymphocytes;
  • placenta;
  • trophoblast

PROBLEM: Previous studies have revealed the presence of a unique population of CD45R + granulated cells in the sheep uterine epithelium. In the present study, dramatic changes in this cell population and in the nongranulated lymphocytes in the uterine and endometrial glandular epithelium of non-cycling, cycling, pregnant, and postparturient sheep are described. In noncycling and cycling sheep, the granules in the granulated intraepithelial cells were small. From days 55 to 134 of pregnancy, the granules in these cells were large, and there was a significant increase (P < 0.01) in the proportion of this cell population in the uterine epithelium but not in the endometrial glandular epithelium located in the deeper region of the stroma. The number of these cells declined dramatically (P < 0.01) from 2 to 15 days after parturition. Both the tissue distribution and the time of activation of these cells suggests they are different from the granulated lymphocytes described in placentae of mice and man.

CONCLUSIONS: It is concluded that this unique population of granulated cells is derived from lymphocytes, and that these cells become metabolically active from mid- to late-pregnancy and may play a physiological role during pregnancy or birth. In contrast, the number of nongranulated intraepithelial lymphocytes were suppressed throughout pregnancy and they probably do not play a role in pregnancy.