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Antigen Presentation by Human Uterine Epithelial Cells to Autologous T Cells


Charles R. Wira, Department of Physiology, Dartmouth Medical School, 1 Medical Center Drive, Lebanon, NH 03756, USA.


Problem  Epithelial cells, as sentinels of immune protection in the endometrium, use innate immune mechanisms to protect against infection from pathogenic microbes. Our goal in this study was to assess the ability of human uterine epithelial cells to present antigen to cells of the adaptive immune system.

Method of study  Highly purified preparations of uterine epithelial cells from 11 patients were assessed for their ability to present tetanus toxoid (TT) to autologous T cells. Leukocyte contamination in the epithelial cell preparations was numerically and functionally determined. Using confocal microscopy, epithelial cells were tested for the expression of CD40 and CD1d.

Results  Purified preparations of endometrial epithelial cells isolated from every patient presented TT recall antigen to autologous T cells. Leukocyte contamination of epithelial cell preparations was insignificant. Uterine epithelial cells express CD40 and CD1d.

Conclusion  Antigen presentation is an additional aspect of uterine epithelial cell function in maintaining women's health.