PROBLEM: Isolation of viable cervical lymphocyte populations and characterization of their function in healthy tissue is necessary to understand immunity in the genital tract.
METHODS: Normal, cervical tissue was digested using a multi-enzymatic digestion procedure. Lymphocytes were characterized using FACS analysis and ELISPOT analysis for immunoglobulin secreting cells.
RESULTS: Following the digestion procedure, 0.16 × 106 ± 0.8 cells/g of tissue with a viability of 90–98% were isolated from normal cervical tissue. FACS analysis determined that B lymphocytes were the predominant cell type in normal cervical tissue representing a significantly higher percentage than that found in peripheral blood (P=0.015). T lymphocytes and NK cells represented a significantly lower percentage than that found in peripheral blood (P=0.0001 and 0.026, respectively). The largest percentage of immunoglobulin secreting cells isolated were secreting IgG followed by IgA. A limited number of IgM secreting cells were detected. IgA2 secreting cells represented 34.46 ± 4.6% of the total number of IgA plasma cells.
CONCLUSION: These studies represent the first analysis of viable mononuclear cells isolated from normal cervical tissue. The results form a baseline from which it will now be possible to compare changes that occur at the cervical squamocolumnar junction in response to infection or neoplasia.