PROBLEM: Apoptosis has been proposed as a mechanism for maintaining the homeostasis in the immune system. Activated lymphocytes are removed by a programmed cell death process Fas/FasL-mediated called activation induced cell death. The aim of the study was to investigate Fas antigen expression on decidual cells (T CD4+ lymphocytes, T CD8+ lymphocytes and Natural Killer (NK) cells) of pre-eclamptic patients and healthy pregnant women.
METHOD OF STUDY: 12 pre-eclamptic patients and 10 healthy pregnant women were studied. Lymphocytes were isolated from decidual tissues mechanically, labeled by direct staining with monoclonal antibodies, and analyzed using the flow cytometric method.
RESULTS: We found Fas antigen expression on decidual NK cells and T lymphocytes. CD 95 molecule expression and fluorescence intensity on NK cells of pre-eclamptic patients were lower when compared with controls (P<0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that decidual NK cells and T lymphocytes are able to undergo Fas/FasL-mediated apoptosis. It seems that NK cells’ ability to undergo Fas/FasL-mediated apoptosis in pre-eclamptic patients can be altered because of lower CD95 molecule expression.