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1 June 2004 Diversity in Phenotype and Steroid Hormone Dependence in Dendritic Cells and Macrophages in the Mouse Uterus
Sarah N. Hudson Keenihan, Sarah A. Robertson
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The dendritic cells and related antigen-presenting cells (APCs) that activate lymphocytes for acquired immunity in the female reproductive tract are not well characterized. The aim of the present study was to examine heterogeneity among uterine APCs in mice and, specifically, to determine whether phenotypically and functionally distinct subpopulations of dendritic cells and macrophages can be identified. Using immunohistochemistry, abundant cells expressing APC-restricted molecules major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II, F4/80, class A scavenger receptor, macrosialin, and sialoadhesin were evident in estrous mice. Cells expressing the costimulatory molecule B7-2 were rarely observed. Flow cytometric analysis revealed three subpopulations of uterine APCs. Undifferentiated macrophages were F4/80-positive ( ), MHC class II-negative (−) cells, of which 70–80% expressed CD11b, but few expressed class A scavenger receptor, macrosialin, or sialoadhesin. Mature macrophages were F4/80 /MHC class II cells, of which approximately 50% expressed CD11b, class A scavenger receptor, macrosialin, and sialoadhesin. Uterine dendritic cells were F4/ 80−/MHC class II cells, with stimulatory immunoaccessory function relative to uterine macrophages and heterogeneous expression of dendritic markers 33D1, DEC205, CD11c, and CD1. Experiments in ovariectomized mice showed that undifferentiated macrophages were steroid hormone dependent but that mature macrophages and dendritic cells persisted after depletion of ovarian steroid hormones, although with altered phenotypes. In summary, our findings identify three discrete populations of APCs inhabiting the murine uterus and suggest that both mature macrophages and dendritic cells differentiate from undifferentiated macrophage precursor cells. Plasticity in the ontogenetic and functional relationships between uterine dendritic cells and macrophages likely is critical in regulating immune responses conducive to reproductive success.

Sarah N. Hudson Keenihan and Sarah A. Robertson "Diversity in Phenotype and Steroid Hormone Dependence in Dendritic Cells and Macrophages in the Mouse Uterus," Biology of Reproduction 70(6), 1562-1572, (1 June 2004).
Received: 29 October 2003; Accepted: 1 January 2004; Published: 1 June 2004
female reproductive tract
steroid hormones
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