Chronic villitis is a histologic diagnosis that may be either associated with infection, or termed villitis of undetermined etiology (VUE). The lymphocytic infiltrate in VUE has been reported to consist of maternal lymphocytes, but the origin of the lymphocytic infiltrate in infectious villitis has not been identified. The purpose of our study was to compare the maternal vs. fetal origin of the infiltrating lymphocytes in VUE and syphilitic villitis, and to expand the immunophenotypic data provided by previous studies. Paraffin-embedded placentas from four males with VUE and two males with syphilitic villitis were subjected to fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) for the X and Y chromosomes. Serial sections were stained with antibodies to CD3, CD4, CD8, CD68, HLA-DR, and CD20. Quantitation of the relative number of cells marking with each antibody was done for four villi in each slide. CD3 lymphocytes predominated in both VUE and syphilitic villitis, with slightly more CD8 cells compared to CD4 cells. CD68 and HLA-DR positive cells were as frequent as CD3 cells, and B-lymphocytes were rare. Maternal cells were the predominant intravillous population in both VUE and syphilitic villitis, and neutrophils in syphilitic villitis were also maternal. These data indicate that the immune response in both syphilitic villitis and VUE is similar, raising the possibility of a similar immunopathogenetic pathway.
chronic villitis syphilis villitis of undetermined etiology