Pregnancy is an immunological balancing act. Trophoblasts do not express MHC class I or II, except HLA-C and G, but express Fas ligand (FasL), which confers immune privilege. RCAS1 (receptor-binding cancer antigen expressed on SiSo cells) has recently been recognized to play a role in immune evasion of the tumour cells. We therefore studied the involvement of RCAS1 and FasL in the infiltration of NK cells by examining the curettaged uterine contents of 20 cases of early stage of pregnancy. The cases were clinically divided into two groups; curettage was performed (A) due to the absence of foetal heart beats, and (B) due to spontaneous uterine bleeding and abortion. In group A, RCAS1 was expressed in the uterine glands and extravillous cytotrophoblasts, as was FasL. Infiltration of NK cells around the uterine glands was scarcely detected. In contrast, in group B, expression of both RCAS1 and FasL was strikingly decreased in both the level of expression and the numbers of RCAS1/FasL-positive cells and massive infiltration of NK cells was frequently detected around the uterine glands. These findings suggest that a reduction in RCAS1 and FasL expression seems to be closely associated with activation and infiltration of maternal NK cells and destruction of uterine glands, resulting in rejection of the foetus. Thus, expression of RCAS1 and FasL in the uterine glands and cytotrophoblasts may play a role in the downregulation of the maternal immune response, thereby maintaining pregnancy at early stage.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy