Human placental cytotrophoblasts attract monocytes and CD56(bright) natural killer cells via the actions of monocyte inflammatory protein 1alpha.
During human pregnancy, the specialized epithelial cells of the placenta (cytotrophoblasts) come into direct contact with immune cells in several locations. In the fetal compartment of the placenta, cytotrophoblast stem cells lie adjacent to macrophages (Hofbauer cells) that reside within the chorionic villus stroma. At sites of placental attachment to the mother, invasive cytotrophoblasts encounter specialized maternal natural killer (NK) cells (CD56(bright)), macrophages, and T cells that accumulate within the uterine wall during pregnancy. Here we tested the hypothesis that fetal cytotrophoblasts can direct the migration of these maternal immune cells. First, we assayed the chemotactic activity of cytotrophoblast conditioned medium samples, using human peripheral blood mononuclear cells as targets. The placental samples preferentially attracted NK cells (both CD56(dim) and CD56(bright)), monocytes, and T cells, suggesting that our hypothesis was correct. A screen to identify chemokine activity through the induction of a Ca(2)+ flux in cells transfected with individual chemokine receptors suggested that cytotrophoblasts secreted monocyte inflammatory protein (MIP)-1alpha. This was confirmed by localizing the corresponding mRNA and protein, both in vitro and in vivo. MIP-1alpha protein in conditioned medium was further characterized by immunoblotting and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Immunodepletion of MIP-1alpha from cytotrophoblast conditioned medium showed that this chemokine was responsible for a significant portion of the induced monocyte and CD56(bright) NK cell chemotaxis. These data suggest the specific conclusion that cytotrophoblasts can attract monocytes and CD56(bright) NK cells by producing MIP-1alpha and the more general hypothesis that these cells may organize and act on leukocytes at the maternal-fetal interface.
Drake, PM; Gunn, MD; Charo, IF; Tsou, CL; Zhou, Y; Huang, L; Fisher, SJ
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