Immunoprofiling of human uterine mast cells identifies three phenotypes and expression of ERb and glucocorticoid receptor

Bianca De leo, Arantza Esnal-Zufiurre, Collins Frances, Hilary Critchley, Philippa Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Abstract Background: Human mast cells (MCs) are long-lived tissue-resident immune cells characterised by granules containing the proteases chymase and/or tryptase. Their phenotype is modulated by their tissue microenvironment. The human uterus has an outer muscular layer (the myometrium) surrounding the endometrium, both of which play an important role in supporting a pregnancy. The endometrium is a sex steroid target tissue consisting of epithelial cells (luminal, glandular) surrounded by a multicellular stroma, with the latter containing an extensive vascular compartment as well as fluctuating populations of immune cells that play an important role in regulating tissue function. The role of MCs in the human uterus is poorly understood with little known about their regulation or the impact of steroids on their differentiation status. The current study had two aims: 1) To investigate the spatial and temporal location of uterine MCs and determine their phenotype; 2) To determine whether MCs express receptors for steroids implicated in uterine function, including oestrogen (ERa, ERb), progesterone (PR) and glucocorticoids (GR). Methods: Tissue samples from women (n=46) were used for RNA extraction or fixed for immunohistochemistry. Results: Messenger RNAs encoded by TPSAB1 (tryptase) and CMA1 (chymase) were detected in endometrial tissue homogenates. Immunohistochemistry revealed the relative abundance of tryptase MCs was myometrium>basal endometrium>functional endometrium. We show for the first time that uterine MCs are predominantly of the classical MC subtypes: (positive, +; negative, -) tryptase+/chymase- and tryptase+/chymase+, but a third subtype was also identified (tryptase-/chymase+). Tryptase+ MCs were of an ERb+/ERa-/PR-/GR+ phenotype mirroring other uterine immune cell populations, including natural killer cells. Conclusions: Endometrial tissue resident immune MCs have three protease-specific phenotypes. Expression of both ERb and GR in MCs mirrors that of other immune cells in the endometrium and suggests that MC function may be altered by the local steroid microenvironment.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date22 Jun 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jun 2017


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