Searchable abstracts of presentations at key conferences on reproductive biology and medicine
Reproduction Abstracts (2014) 1 P273 | DOI: 10.1530/repabs.1.P273

WCRB2014 POSTER PRESENTATIONS (1) (335 abstracts)

Estradiol promotes differentiation of uterine natural killer cells during establishment of pregnancy

Douglas A Gibson , Hilary O D Critchley & Philippa T K Saunders

University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

Background: Uterine natural killer (uNK) cells are a phenotypically distinct population of tissue-resident immune cells that are reported to regulate vascular remodelling within the endometrium. The mechanisms that control accumulation of uNK cells in the endometrium remain unresolved although there is evidence to suggest that homing and differentiation of peripheral blood NK (pbNK) cells may contribute to the rapid increase in cell numbers during the secretory phase of the menstrual cycle. NK cell phenotype is characterised by expression of the surface proteins CD56 and CD16; the majority of pbNK cells are CD56+CD16+ whereas uNK cells are CD56+CD16.

We have previously reported that during the secretory phase, decidualisation is associated with increased biosynthesis of estradiol (E2) resulting in an estrogen-dominated microenvironment. Given that uNK cells express estrogen receptor (ER)β we hypothesised that E2 might promote differentiation of pbNK cells recruited to the uterus during preparation for pregnancy.

Methods: PbNK cells were isolated from healthy pre-menopausal female donors by Percoll gradient separation and magnetic sorting for CD56+ cells. Purified pbNK cells were treated with E2 and the impact on expression of NK cell markers was assessed using flow cytometery.

Results and discussion: Analysis of pbNK cells revealed that E2 altered expression of surface proteins consistent with differentiation towards a uNK cell phenotype. Specifically, the number of CD16 positive NK cells was decreased and the proportion of CD56+CD16 cells was increased by treatment with E2. These data offer novel insight into the regulation of uNK cell differentiation during establishment of pregnancy.

Volume 1

World Congress of Reproductive Biology 2014

Edinburgh, UK
02 Sep 2014 - 04 Sep 2014

World Congress of Reproductive Biology 

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