Natural killer cells promote immune tolerance by regulating inflammatory TH17 cells at the human maternal-fetal interface
Killer Cells, Natural
Natural killer (NK) cells accumulate at the maternal-fetal interface in large numbers, but their exact roles in successful pregnancy remain poorly defined. Here, we provide evidence that T(H)17 cells and local inflammation can occur at the maternal-fetal interface during natural allogenic pregnancies. We found that decidual NK cells promote immune tolerance and successful pregnancy by dampening inflammatory T(H)17 cells via IFN-γ secreted by the CD56(bright)CD27(+) NK subset. This NK-cell-mediated regulatory response is lost in patients who experience recurrent spontaneous abortions, which results in a prominent T(H)17 response and extensive local inflammation. This local inflammatory response further affects the regulatory function of NK cells, leading to the eventual loss of maternal-fetal tolerance. Thus, our data identify NK cells as key regulatory cells at the maternal-fetal interface by suppressing T(H)17-mediated local inflammation.