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Our aim was to investigate the contribution of decidual macrophages, which constitute an important immune component of the decidua in late gestation, to intrauterine defence mechanisms. Using flow cytometry we examined the ability of decidual macrophages, isolated from term decidua, to bind and phagocytose fluorescence-labelled bacterial and yeast bioparticles. We also assessed their ability to generate superoxide radicals and tumour necrosis factor-alpha following lipopolysaccharide challenge. Decidual macrophages bound bacterial and yeast particles in a dose-dependent manner, which subsequently led to phagocytosis. These macrophages also produced superoxide radicals and the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha when challenged with bacterial lipopolysaccharides. These results suggest a role for decidual macrophages in pathogen recognition and clearance during pregnancy, and, therefore, they are likely to protect the fetus against intrauterine infections which might otherwise lead to preterm labour.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





631 - 637


Cell Count, Cell Culture Techniques, Decidua, Escherichia coli, Female, Flow Cytometry, Free Radicals, Humans, Lipopolysaccharides, Macrophages, Phagocytosis, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Trimester, Third, Staphylococcus aureus, Stimulation, Chemical, Superoxides, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha, Zymosan