Human Decidual Natural Killer Cells Are a Unique NK Cell Subset with Immunomodulatory Potential

Louise A. Koopman, Hernan D. Kopcow, Basya Rybalov, Jonathan E. Boyson, Jordan S. Orange, Frederick Schatz, Rachel Masch, Charles J. Lockwood, Asher D. Schachter, Peter J. Park, Jack L. Strominger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

735 Scopus citations


Natural killer cells constitute 50-90% of lymphocytes in human uterine decidua in early pregnancy. Here, CD56bright uterine decidual NK (dNK) cells were compared with the CD56bright and CD56dim peripheral NK cell subsets by microarray analysis, with verification of results by flow cytometry and RT-PCR. Among the ∼10,000 genes studied, 278 genes showed at least a threefold change with P ≤ 0.001 when comparing the dNK and peripheral NK cell subsets, most displaying increased expression in dNK cells. The largest number of these encoded surface proteins, including the unusual lectinlike receptors NKG2E and Ly-49L, several killer cell Ig-like receptors, the integrin subunits αD, αX, β1, and β5, and multiple tetraspanins (CD9, CD151, CD53, CD63, and TSPAN-5). Additionally, two secreted proteins, galectin-1 and progestagen-associated protein 14, known to have immunomodulatory functions, were selectively expressed in dNK cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1201-1212
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - 20 Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Gene expression proflling
  • Lymphocyte subsets
  • Maternal-fetal relations
  • Natural killer cells
  • Pregnancy


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