Role of major histocompatibility complex class I expression and natural killer-like T cells in the genetic control of endometriosis

C. Semino, A. Semino, G. Pietra, M. C. Mingari, S. Barocci, P. L. Venturini, N. Ragni, G. Melioli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: To evaluate whether the expression of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I on eutopic and ectopic endometrial cells modify the susceptibility to lysis mediated by lymphocytes. Design: Evaluation oft lymphocyte cytotoxic activity and HLA class I expression on endometrial cells. Setting: Subjects were recruited at laparoscopy. Patients: Patients with endometriosis (n = 7). Healthy women as controls (n = 10). Main Outcome Measures: Human leukocyte antigen class I molecule analysis of endometrial cells was carried out by immunofluorescence and flow cytometry. Phenotyping oft lymphocytes was performed to analyze T-cell subsets. Cytotoxicity was performed to determine cytolytic activity against endometrial cells. Results: In vitro culture of endometrial cells down-regulates the expression of HLA class I molecules and enhances the susceptibility to lysis mediated by natural killer (NK)-like T lymphocytes. Cytolytic T-cell clones, expressing the CD94 antigen, are inhibited by the HLA-B7 allele on endometrial cells. Ectopic endometrial cells modulate the expression of HLA class I molecules. Conclusions: The resistance to lysis of endometrial cells is related to expression of surface HLA class I molecules, which send a negative signal for lysis mediated by NK-like T lymphocytes. The HLA-B7 allele inhibits the cytotoxic activity, suggesting that the growth of ectopic endometrial cells might be under a genetic control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)909-916
Number of pages8
JournalFertility and Sterility
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1995



  • Endometriosis
  • MHC class I molecule expression
  • NK-like T lymphocytes mediated cytotoxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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