Local active suppression by suppressor cells in the decidua: a review.
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The immunological survival of the antigen-bearing mammalian feto-placental unit is determined by the functional properties of the tissues at the feto-maternal interface. Antigen-specific systemic suppressor mechanisms such as suppressor T cells and nonantigen-specific suppressive serum factors appear not to play a major role in protection of the fetus. A novel type of non-MHC specific suppressor cell accumulates locally in the decidua of successfully allopregnant mice. This decidua-associated suppressor is a small lymphocytic cell possessing cytoplasmic granules, lacks T cell markers, and is deficient in number and activity at the implantation sites of viable xenogeneic Mus caroli embryos gestating in the uterus of Mus musculus animals at the time that maternal lymphoid cells begin to infiltrate the xenoembryos. These Mus caroli embryos subsequently resorb. Further experimental studies suggest that the trophoblast cells associated with successful pregnancy recruit bone-marrow derived maternal non-T suppressor cells to the decidua and thus, by an indirect mechanism, may act to protect the fetus from effector cells of the mother's immune system.
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