Human endometrial MAIT cells are transiently tissue resident and respond to Neisseria gonorrhoeae

Mucosal Immunol. 2021 Mar;14(2):357-365. doi: 10.1038/s41385-020-0331-5. Epub 2020 Aug 5.


Mucosa-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are non-classical T cells important in the mucosal defense against microbes. Despite an increasing interest in the immunobiology of the endometrial mucosa, little is known regarding human MAIT cells in this compartment. The potential role of MAIT cells as a tissue-resident local defense against microbes in the endometrium is largely unexplored. Here, we performed a high-dimensional flow cytometry characterization of MAIT cells in endometrium from pre- and postmenopausal women, and in decidua from first-trimester pregnancies. Furthermore, we assessed MAIT cell function by stimulation with Neisseria gonorrhoeae (N. gonorrhoeae). Endometrial MAIT (eMAIT) cells represented a stable endometrial immune cell population as limited dynamic changes were observed during the menstrual cycle, post menopause, or in response to pregnancy. Furthermore, eMAIT cells exhibited an activated tissue-resident phenotype. Despite expressing CD69 and CD103, eMAIT cells were replenished over time by circulating MAIT cells, as assessed using human uterus transplantation as a model. Finally, functional experiments revealed the capability of MAIT cells to respond to the sexually transmitted and tissue-relevant pathogen, N. gonorrhoeae. In conclusion, our study provides novel insight into human MAIT cell dynamics and anti-microbial properties in the human uterus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Endometrium / immunology*
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gonorrhea / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Menopause
  • Mucosal-Associated Invariant T Cells / immunology*
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / physiology*
  • Organ Transplantation
  • Pregnancy
  • Uterus / transplantation*