CD1d and invariant NKT cells at the human maternal-fetal interface

Jonathan E. Boyson, Basya Rybalov, Louise A. Koopman, Mark Exley, Steven P. Balk, Frederick K. Racke, Frederick Schatz, Rachel Masch, S. Brian Wilson, Jack L. Strominger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


Invariant CD1d-restricted natural killer T (iNKT) cells comprise a small, but significant, immunoregulatory T cell subset. Here, the presence of these cells and their CD1d ligand at the human maternal-fetal interface was investigated. Immunohistochemical staining of human decidua revealed the expression of CD1d on both villous and extravillous trophoblasts, the fetal cells that invade the maternal decidua. Decidual iNKT cells comprised 0.48% of the decidual CD3+ T cell population, a frequency 10 times greater than that seen in peripheral blood. Interestingly, decidual CD4+ iNKT cells exhibited a striking Th1-like bias (IFN-γ production), whereas peripheral blood CD4+ iNKT clones exhibited a Th2-like bias (IL-4 production). Moreover, compared to their peripheral blood counterparts, decidual iNKT clones were strongly polarized toward granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor production. The demonstration of CD1d expression on fetal trophoblasts together with the differential pattern of cytokine expression by decidual iNKT cells suggests that maternal iNKT cell interactions with CD1d expressed on invading fetal cells may play an immunoregulatory role at the maternal-fetal interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13741-13746
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
StatePublished - 15 Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes


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