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The immunological interaction between the mother and fetus has classically been thought of as one between paternal antigen and maternal T cells. However, the MHC antigen expression on human trophoblast and the immune cell populations present in the decidua suggest that this interaction primarily involves decidual NK cells rather than T cells, and this is supported by new functional studies. It is becoming apparent also that the maternal systemic immune response in pregnancy (Th1/Th2 shift) primarily involves NK cells. Aberrant NK cell activation both locally in the decidua and systemically in the maternal blood may be the cause of pre-eclampsia.

Original publication




Journal article


J Reprod Immunol

Publication Date





40 - 44


Cytokines, Decidua, Female, Histocompatibility Antigens Class I, Humans, Killer Cells, Natural, Pre-Eclampsia, Pregnancy, Receptors, KIR, T-Lymphocyte Subsets, Trophoblasts