Development of a Human Model to Study Homing Behavior of Immune Cells into Decidua and Placental Villi Under Ex Vivo Conditions

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Homing of lymphocytes and NK cells into the decidua and its regulation has been very controversially discussed. Therefore, we aimed to establish an in vivo simulation method for analysis of homing behavior, which might be also useful for other cells such as stem or tumor cells.

Method of study

A human term placenta has been perfused with medium to elute blood and then with maternal autologous carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester (CFSE)-labeled peripheral blood lymphocytes for 3 hr and rinsed for another 2 hr. Tissue was analysed histologically for detection of labeled cells. Labeled lymphocytes and beads in perfusate have been identified and counted by flow cytometry.


At the moment of tissue fixation for histology, the perfusate was free of labeled cells. Labeled perfused lymphocytes have been found adhered and integrated in vessel wall structures, in decidual stroma and as colonies in individual villi.


Placenta perfusion with a lymphocyte suspension is feasible without plugging the tube system. Time is sufficient for cells to adhere and to migrate into the stroma. Also some villi have been infiltrated which might be caused by inflammatory stimuli. The perfusion system might be useful to test substances for their capacity to influence homing of lymphocytes or other cells.

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