Virchows Archiv

, Volume 448, Issue 3, pp 269–276 | Cite as

Serious foetal growth restriction is associated with reduced proportions of natural killer cells in decidua basalis

  • Irina P. EideEmail author
  • Toril Rolfseng
  • Christina V. Isaksen
  • Reidun Mecsei
  • Borghild Roald
  • Stian Lydersen
  • Kjell Å. Salvesen
  • Nina K. Harsem
  • Rigmor Austgulen
Original Article


Extravillous trophoblasts are major participants in placental development and remodelling of spiral arteries. Trophoblast invasion is regulated by maternal immune cells, and abnormal leucocyte subpopulation composition has been reported in implantation failure. In pre-eclampsia (PE), with or without foetal growth restriction (FGR), superficial trophoblast invasion and insufficient remodelling of spiral arteries are common findings. In the present study, we have compared spiral artery remodelling and leucocyte composition in decidual tissue from 30 cases (PE=8, FGR=5, PE + FGR=17) and 31 controls. Six histological remodelling criteria were established, and each pregnancy obtained a remodelling score. Numbers of natural killer (NK) cells (CD56+), T cells (CD3+) and activated (CD25+ or CD69+) leucocytes were determined and related to total leucocyte (CD45+) numbers in serial sections. Cases demonstrated significantly impaired spiral artery remodelling, inappropriate placental growth and reduced NK cell proportions, as compared to controls (P=0.02, P<0.001 and P=0.01, respectively). Reduced NK cell proportion was primarily found in pregnancies complicated by FGR, with or without PE, and a significant positive correlation was observed between NK cell proportion, trophoblast infiltration and placental growth. Our in vivo observations support the hypothesized association between NK cells, impaired placental development and pathogenesis of PE/FGR.


Pregnancy Foetal growth restriction Pre-eclampsia Spiral artery Activation markers 



Tove Noren (Department of Pathology, Ullevål University Hospital, Oslo, Norway) performed the double staining with mAb CK7 and mAb actin. The study was supported by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and St. Olavs Hospital HF.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irina P. Eide
    • 1
    Email author
  • Toril Rolfseng
    • 1
  • Christina V. Isaksen
    • 2
  • Reidun Mecsei
    • 3
  • Borghild Roald
    • 4
  • Stian Lydersen
    • 5
  • Kjell Å. Salvesen
    • 2
  • Nina K. Harsem
    • 6
  • Rigmor Austgulen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Cancer Research and Molecular MedicineNorwegian University of Science and Technology, Medisinsk Teknisk ForskningssenterTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Department of Laboratory Medicine, Children’s and Women’s HealthNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  3. 3.Department of Medical Laboratory TechnologySør-Trøndelag University CollegeTrondheimNorway
  4. 4.Department of PathologyUllevål University HospitalOsloNorway
  5. 5.Unit of Applied Clinical Research, Department of Cancer Research and Molecular MedicineNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  6. 6.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUllevål University HospitalOsloNorway

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