Indoleamine-dioxygenase is expressed in human decidua at the time maternal tolerance is established
The semi-allogeneic fetus has to be tolerated by the maternal immune system. In mice, it has been shown that inhibiting indoleamine-dioxygenase (IDO) leads to fetal rejection, suggesting a central significance for IDO in establishing maternal tolerance. Consequently, we have analyzed IDO expression in human endometrium and decidua to determine whether it may be of significance in human reproduction. Endometrial (n=60) and decidual (n=68; first and second trimester) tissue samples and isolated cells were analyzed for IDO mRNA and protein expression by real-time PCR, Western blot and immunohistochemistry. IDO expression in the decidua of proven fertile women (n=34) was compared to women presenting with their first pregnancy (n=22) and women with a history of miscarriages (n=12). Expression of IDO was localized in glandular epithelial cells and scattered stromal leukocytes. Expression started at the mid-luteal phase in the menstrual cycle and was high until the second trimester of pregnancy. However, glandular expression of IDO decreased during the second trimester, whereas expression in villous trophoblast started at this time. There were no significant differences in decidual IDO expression between proven fertile women and women presenting with their first pregnancy or women with a history of miscarriages. From the expression pattern we conclude that IDO may play a central role in human pregnancies for the establishment of maternal tolerance of fetal antigens. Thereby, IDO expression may be needed in each pregnancy independently from prior pregnancies, and a history of miscarriage may not reflect a general deficiency in IDO expression.