Expression of MHC antigens on murine trophoblast and their modulation by interferon

F. A. Zuckermann, J. R. Head

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Primary cultures of defined populations of mouse trophoblast, isolated from mature placentas, were analyzed for their MHC antigen expression and for the modulatory efect of interferon (IFN) by antibody- and complement-mediated cytotoxicity and flow cytofluorometry. The cells were obtained from placentas by enzymatic digestion, followed by Percoll gradient fractionation, and are large, fetally derived epithelial cells, which we previously characterized and identified as trophoblast cells. After 2 days in culture, a significant proportion of the trophoblast cells were susceptible to antibody- and complement-mediated lysis by anti-paternal strain alloantisera (40%) and, to a lesser degree, by an anti-class I monoclonal antibody (20%). Flow cytofluorometric analysis indicated that 20 to 50% of the cultured trophoblast cells expressed low levels of paternal strain class I antigens as compared to L cell fibroblasts. After culture for 48 hr with IFN-α/β or IFN-γ, the percent of class I-positive cells was increased to 68 to 76%, as was the mean fluorescence intensity, which correlated with the increased percent of antibody- and complement-mediated specific lysis (73%). No expression of class II MHC antigen by the cultured trophoblast cells was detected, even after culture in the presence of IFN-Γ. The cultured trophoblast cells, when tested for alkaline phosphatase (AP) activity, were composed of strongly positive and weakly positive subpopulations. An inverse correlation between strength of AP activity and the expression of H-2 was observed by double staining. These results indicate that trophoblast cells cultured in vitro are able to express paternal strain class I but not class II MHC antigens, as has been reported in vivo, and that this expression can be modulated by IFN. Further study of these cells should provide important clues for the understanding of materno-fetal coexistence in the face of MHC antigen differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)846-853
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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