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Problem:  Natural Cytotoxicity Receptors (NCRs) are unique markers of NK cells and regulate NK cell cytotoxicity and cytokine production. a2V-ATPase is expressed in the cell membrane and can regulate the pH of the extracellular environment, which might facilitate NK cell killing or cytokine secretion. In this preliminary study we evaluated the expression of NCRs and a2V-ATPase in peripheral blood NK cells of women with RSA or implantation (IVF-ET) failures.

Method of Study:  Peripheral blood was obtained from women with RSA (n = 10), or IVF-ET failures (n = 9). CD56dim and CD56bright NK cells were analyzed for the expression of NCRs (NKp46, NKp44 and NKp30) and a2V-ATPase using flow cytometry.

Results:  For women with RSA, there were significant differences in the expression of NKp46 between CD56dim (36.9 ± 30.2) and CD56bright (76.0 ± 27.5) (P < 0.01), of NKp30 between CD56dim (30.9 ± 25.7) and CD56bright (55.8 ± 29.5) (P < 0.01), and of a2V-ATPase between CD56dim (1.0 ± 0.9) and CD56bright (23.2 ± 15.1) (P < 0.01) NK cells. For women with IVF-ET failures, there were significant differences in the expression of NKp46 between CD56dim (39.5 ± 21.5) and CD56bright (78.8 ± 26.0) (P < 0.01), of NKp30 between CD56dim (27.2 ± 17.9) and CD56bright (45.2 ± 29.8) (P < 0.05), and of a2V-ATPase between CD56dim (1.6 ± 1.4) and CD56bright (21.2 ± 16.5) (P < 0.01) NK cells.

Conclusions:  The differential expression of NCRs and a2V-ATPase in NK cell subsets of women with RSA and IVF-ET failures may have an effect in cytotoxicity and cytokine production. Additional studies are currently in effect to evaluate these activities. We suggest that the analysis of NCRs and a2V-ATPase expression in peripheral blood NK cell subsets may contribute to a better understanding in the biology of NK cells in women with RSA or IVF-ET failures.