Get access

Phenotype of NK Cells and Cytotoxic/Apoptotic Mediators Expression in Ectopic Pregnancy


Daniel Rukavina, MD DSc, Department of Physiology and Immunology, Medical Faculty, University of Rijeka, B. Branchetta 20/1, HR-51000 Rijeka, Croatia.


Citation Laskarin G, Redzovic A, Vukelic P, Veljkovic D, Gulic T, Haller H, Rukavina D. Phenotype of NK cells and cytotoxic/apoptotic mediators expression in ectopic pregnancy. Am J Reprod Immunol 2010

Problem  The expression of cytotoxic/apoptotic mediators and the phenotype characteristics of uterine NK cells (uNK) in tubal ectopic pregnancy (EP) were investigated.

Method of study  Samples of uterine decidua and tubal mucosa as well as peripheral blood (PB) of the same women with EP were used for phenotype characterization of NK cells and detection of cytotoxic/apoptotic mediators and IL-15.

Results  In tubal mucosa, perforin, FasL, granulysin and IL-15 were almost completely absent, but they were present in normal and EP uterine deciduas. TRAIL was present on trophoblast and tubal mucosa, contrary to its lack in normal and EP uterine decidua. CD16CD56dim NK cells, mostly CD94 and NKG2A, predominate in tubal mucosa, whereas CD16CD56bright NK cells, predominantly CD94+ and NKG2A+ prevail in EP uterine decidua. NK cells at the EP implantation site express lower percentages of perforin and granulysin, but they express a higher percentage of TRAIL than do EP uterine decidual and PB NK cells. Lower percentage of TNF-α-expressing and IL-4-expressing NK cells were found at the implantation site compared to EP uterine decidua.

Conclusions  Authentic uNK cell population seems to be insufficient to restrict trophoblast invasion because of low expression of cytotoxic/apoptotic mediators.

Get access to the full text of this article