REVIEW ARTICLE: Uterine NK Cells, Spiral Artery Modification and the Regulation of Blood Pressure During Mouse Pregnancy


  • Invited review for 30th Anniversary Issue of the American Society for Reproductive Immunology.

Anne Croy, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Queen’s University, Room 915, Botterell Hall, 18 Stuart Street, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6. E-mail:


Citation Burke SD, Barrette VF, Gravel J, Carter ALI, Hatta K, Zhang J, Chen Z, Leno-Durán E, Bianco J, Leonard S, Murrant C, Adams MA, Anne Croy B. Uterine NK cells, spiral artery modification and the regulation of blood pressure during mouse pregnancy. Am J Reprod Immunol 2010

Reproductive success in mammals involves coordinated changes in the immune and cardiovascular as well as in the neuroendocrine and reproductive systems. This review addresses studies that identify potential links for NK cells and T cells with the local and systemic cardiovascular adaptations of pregnancy. The studies reviewed have utilized immunohistochemisty and in vivo analyses of vascular parameters by ultrasound, chronic monitoring of hemodynamics via radiotelemetric recording and intravital microscopy. At the uterine level, functional subsets of uterine natural killer cells were identified. These included subsets expressing molecules important for vasoregulation, in addition to those previously identified for angiogenesis. Spiral arteries showed conducted responses that could account for conceptus control of vasoactivity and mouse gestational blood pressure 5-phase pattern. Vascular immunology is an emerging transdisciplinary field, critical for both reproductive immunology and cardiovascular disease.