Evidence for a role for the adaptive immune response in human term parturition

Am J Reprod Immunol. 2013 Mar;69(3):212-30. doi: 10.1111/aji.12074. Epub 2013 Jan 24.


Problem: Spontaneous labor at term involves leukocyte recruitment and infiltration into the choriodecidua; yet, characterization of these leukocytes and their immunological mediators is incomplete. The purpose of this study was to characterize the immunophenotype of choriodecidual leukocytes as well as the expression of inflammatory mediators in human spontaneous parturition at term.

Method of study: Choriodecidual leukocytes were analyzed by FACS, immunohistochemistry, and RT-PCR in three different groups: (i) preterm gestation delivered for medical indications without labor; (ii) term pregnancy without labor; and (iii) term pregnancy after spontaneous labor.

Results: Two T-cell subsets of memory-like T cells (CD3(+) CD4(+) CD45RO(+) and CD3(+) CD4(-) CD8(-) CD45RO(+) cells) were identified in the choriodecidua of women who had spontaneous labor. Evidence for an extensive immune signaling network composed of chemokines (CXCL8 and CXCL10), chemokine receptors (CXCR1-3), cytokines (IL-1β and TNF-α), cell adhesion molecules, and MMP-9 was identified in these cells during spontaneous labor at term.

Conclusions: The influx of memory-like T cells in the choriodecidua and the evidence that they are active by producing chemokines and cytokines, and expressing chemokine receptors, cell adhesion molecules, and a matrix-degrading enzyme provides support for the participation of the adaptive immune system in the mechanisms of spontaneous parturition at term.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Cell Separation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokine CXCL10 / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Decidua / immunology*
  • Extraembryonic Membranes / immunology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Parturition / immunology
  • Pregnancy
  • Receptors, Cytokine / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*


  • Antigens, CD
  • Chemokine CXCL10
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Interleukin-8
  • Receptors, Cytokine