Characterization of neutrophil subsets in healthy human pregnancies

PLoS One. 2014 Feb 13;9(2):e85696. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085696. eCollection 2014.


We have previously shown that in successful pregnancies increased arginase activity is a mechanism that contributes to the suppression of the maternal immune system. We identified the main type of arginase-expressing cells as a population of activated low-density granulocytes (LDGs) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and in term placentae. In the present study, we analyzed the phenotype of LDGs and compared it to the phenotype of normal density granulocytes (NDGs) in maternal peripheral blood, placental biopsies and cord blood. Our data reveal that only LDGs but no NDGs could be detected in placental biopsies. Phenotypically, NDGs and LDGs from both maternal and cord blood expressed different levels of maturation, activation and degranulation markers. NDGs from the maternal and cord blood were phenotypically similar, while maternal, cord and placental LDGs showed different expression levels of CD66b. LDGs present in cord blood expressed higher levels of arginase compared to maternal and placental LDGs. In summary, our results show that in maternal and cord blood, two phenotypically different populations of neutrophils can be identified, whereas in term placentae, only activated neutrophils are present.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD / genetics
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Arginase / genetics
  • Arginase / immunology
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / genetics
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / immunology
  • Cell Degranulation / immunology
  • Cell Lineage / immunology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / cytology*
  • Fetal Blood / immunology
  • GPI-Linked Proteins / genetics
  • GPI-Linked Proteins / immunology
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Neutrophil Activation / immunology
  • Neutrophils / cytology*
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Phenotype
  • Placenta / cytology*
  • Placenta / immunology
  • Pregnancy


  • Antigens, CD
  • Biomarkers
  • CEACAM8 protein, human
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Arginase