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Large granular lymphocytes (LGL) are the most abundant cell type in first trimester human pregnancy decidua. We have shown previously that CD56-positive decidual LGL have cytotoxic activity against the natural killer (NK) target K562, and that this cytotoxicity is augmented by pretreatment with interleukin-2 (IL-2). We now report that flow cytometrically purified populations of CD56-positive decidual LGL have no cytotoxic activity against either the BeWo choriocarcinoma cell line or freshly isolated term trophoblast. Incubation of unfractionated decidual cells with IL-2 induced cytotoxicity against BeWo, but term trophoblast remained resistant to lysis. Both BeWo and trophoblast showed much lower binding frequencies to decidual or peripheral blood cells than K56 targets, and excess trophoblast did not inhibit cytotoxic activity against K562. This suggests that the resistance of trophoblast to lysis by either decidual or peripheral blood LGL is due to the lack of accessible NK target structures on the surface of trophoblast.


Journal article


Cell Immunol

Publication Date





140 - 149


Choriocarcinoma, Cytotoxicity, Immunologic, Decidua, Female, Humans, Immunity, Cellular, Killer Cells, Natural, Leukocytes, Mononuclear, Lymphocytes, Pregnancy, Trophoblasts, Tumor Cells, Cultured