PROBLEM: Although several studies have demonstrated that decidual stromal cells (DSC) can secrete cytokines in culture, none of these studies documented the purity of the cultures. Since other cells of the decidua, such as macrophages and epithelial cells, also produce cytokines, it is important to ensure purity of the culture so that cytokine production can be ascribed with confidence to DSC.
METHOD: DSC from early human pregnancies were highly purified and maintained in culture. Basal secretion by these cells of IL-6, together with other cytokines considered critical for pregnancy (IL-1β, TNFα and IFNγ), was measured with immunological techniques.
RESULTS: We found that DSC in culture produce insignificant quantities of IL-1β, TNFá and IFNΓ, but appreciable amounts of IL-6. The production of this later cytokine was, however, inhibited by the effect of progesterone.
CONCLUSIONS: Basal production of IL-6 by DSC may be involved in physiological functions at the maternal-fetal interface. Nevertheless, the secretion of this cytokine is regulated by progesterone, probably to prevent excessive production of this cytokine from triggering an inflammatory response that might compromise pregnancy.