Problem The immunological equilibrium at the feto-maternal interphase contributes towards late gestational diseases like growth restriction (IUGR) pre-eclampsia (PE) and hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelets (HELLP)-syndrome. The state of activation of decidual dendritic cells (DC) has emerged as one of the central players influencing this immunological equilibrium.
Method of study Paraffin-embedded tissue sections from 27 pregnancies were immunostained for DC markers DEC-205, DC-SIGN, DC-LAMP and costained for DC-SIGN/CD56 and DC-SIGN/ vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) -1 and -2. We investigated placental tissue of IUGR fetuses and of patients who developed PE or HELLP-syndrome as well as placental tissue derived from normal pregnancies.
Results We found that expression of DEC-205 and DC-SIGN was significantly upregulated in HELLP placentas, whereas expression of DC-LAMP was abrogated almost entirely. Costaining showed an interaction between DC-SIGN+ DC and natural killer cells as well as costaining of VEGFR-1 and -2 and DC-SIGN. Pre-eclamptic and IUGR placentas showed no significant change in any of the investigated markers compared to normal controls.
Conclusion Our data suggest a participation of DC-mediated immunological mechanisms in HELLP syndrome.