Antigen-Presenting Cells and Materno-Fetal Tolerance: An Emerging Role for Dendritic Cells


Sandra M Blois, Charité Centrum 12 für Innere Medizin und Dermatologie, University Medicine of Berlin, BMFZ, Raum 2.0547, Augustenburger Platz 1, 13353 Berlin, Germany.
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During pregnancy, a delicate balance of innate and adaptive immune responses at the maternal–fetal interface promotes survival of the semi-allogeneic embryo and, at the same time, allows effective immunity to protect the mother from environmental pathogens. As in other tissues, antigen handling and processing in the decidualized endometrium constitutes a primary event in the onset of immune responses and is therefore likely to determine their stimulatory or tolerogenic nature. Maternal antigen-presenting cells [macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs)] are scattered throughout the decidualized endometrium during all stages of pregnancy and appear to be important players in this feto-maternal immune adjustment. This review focuses on the characterization of decidual macrophages and DCs, as well as their involvement in cell–cell interactions within the decidual leukocyte network, which are likely to influence uterine and placental homeostasis as well as the local maternal immune responses to the fetus during pregnancy.