Spermatogenesis is a complex process that originates in a small population of spermatogonial stem cells. Here we report the in vitro culture of spermatogonial stem cells that proliferate for long periods of time. In the presence of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor, epidermal growth factor, basic fibroblast growth factor, and leukemia inhibitory factor, gonocytes isolated from neonatal mouse testis proliferated over a 5-month period (>10 14 -fold) and restored fertility to congenitally infertile recipient mice following transplantation into seminiferous tubules. Long-term spermatogonial stem cell culture will be useful for studying spermatogenesis mechanism and has important implications for developing new technology in transgenesis or medicine.
Abstract The presence of ammonium in the culture medium has significant detrimental effects on the regulation of embryo physiology and genetics. Ammonium levels build up linearly over time in the culture medium when media containing amino acids are incubated at 37°C. Ammonium in the culture media significantly reduces blastocyst cell number, decreases inner cell mass development, increases apoptosis, perturbs metabolism, impairs the ability of embryos to regulate intracellular pH, and alters the expression of the imprinted gene H19. In contrast, the rate of blastocyst development and blastocyst morphology appear to be normal. The transfer of blastocysts exposed to ammonium results in a significant reduction in the ability to establish a pregnancy. Furthermore, of those embryos that manage to implant, fetal growth is significantly impaired. Embryos exposed to 300 μM ammonium are retarded by 1.5 days developmentally at Day 15 of pregnancy. It is therefore essential that culture conditions for mammalian embr...
Human embryonic stem (hES) cells hold great promise for future use in various research areas, such as human developmental biology and cell-based therapies. Traditionally, these cells have been cultured on mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF) feeder layers, which permit continuous growth in an undifferentiated stage. To use these unique cells in human therapy, an animal-free culture system must be used, which will prevent exposure to mouse retroviruses. Animal-free culture systems for hES cells enjoy three major advantages in the basic culture conditions: 1) the ability to grow these cells under serum-free conditions, 2) maintenance of the cells in an undifferentiated state on Matrigel matrix with 100% MEF-conditioned medium, and 3) the use of either human embryonic fibroblasts or adult fallopian tube epithelial cells as feeder layers. In the present study, we describe an additional animal-free culture system for hES cells, based on a feeder layer derived from foreskin and a serum-free medium. In this culture condition, hES cells maintain all embryonic stem cell features (i.e., pluripotency, immortality, unlimited undifferentiated proliferation capability, and maintenance of normal karyotypes) after prolonged culture of 70 passages (>250 doublings). The major advantage of foreskin feeders is their ability to be continuously cultured for more than 42 passages, thus enabling proper analysis for foreign agents, genetic modification such as antibiotic resistance, and reduction of the enormous workload involved in the continuous preparation of new feeder lines.
The objective of this study was to improve the conditions for oocyte development in vitro beginning with the primordial follicles of newborn mice. Previous studies showed that oocytes competent of meiotic maturation, fertilization, and preimplantation could develop in vitro from primordial follicles. However, the success rates were low and only one live offspring was produced (0.5% of embryos transferred). A revised protocol was compared with the original protocol using oocyte maturation and preimplantation development as end points. The percentage of oocytes maturing to metaphase II and developing to the blastocyst stage was significantly improved using the revised protocol. In addition, we compared the production of offspring from two-cell stage embryos derived from in vitro-grown and in vivo-grown oocytes. Of 1160 transferred two-cell stage embryos derived from in vitro-grown oocytes, 66 (5.7%) developed to term and 7 pups (10.6%) died at birth. The remaining 59 pups (27 females, 32 males) survived to adulthood. By comparison, of 437 transferred two-cell stage embryos derived from in vivo-grown oocytes, 76 (17.4%) developed to term and 4 (5.3%) died at birth. The remaining 72 pups (35 females, 37 males) survived to adulthood. These studies provide proof of the principle that fully competent mammalian oocytes can develop in vitro from primordial follicles and present a significant advance in oocyte culture technology.
We have previously shown that, while the intrinsic quality of the oocyte is the main factor affecting blastocyst yield during bovine embryo development in vitro, the main factor affecting the quality of the blastocyst is the postfertilization culture conditions. Therefore, any improvement in the quality of blastocysts produced in vitro is likely to derive from the modification of the postfertilization culture conditions. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of the presence or absence of serum and the concentration of BSA during the period of embryo culture in vitro on 1) cleavage rate, 2) the kinetics of embryo development, 3) blastocyst yield, and 4) blastocyst quality, as assessed by cryotolerance and gene expression patterns. The quantification of all gene transcripts was carried out by real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Bovine blastocysts from four sources were used: 1) in vitro culture in synthetic oviduct fluid (SOF) supplemented with 3 mg/ml BSA and 10% fetal calf serum (FCS), 2) in vitro culture in SOF + 3 mg/ml BSA in the absence of serum, 3) in vitro culture in SOF + 16 mg/ml BSA in the absence of serum, and 4) in vivo blastocysts. There was no difference in overall blastocyst yield at Day 9 between the groups. However, significantly more blastocysts were present by Day 6 in the presence of 10% serum (20.0%) compared with 3 mg/ml BSA (4.6%, P < 0.001) or 16 mg/ml BSA (11.6%, P < 0.01). By Day 7, however, this difference had disappeared. Following vitrification, there was no difference in survival between blastocysts produced in the presence of 16 mg/ml BSA or those produced in the presence of 10% FCS; the survival of both groups was significantly lower than the in vivo controls at all time points and in terms of hatching rate. In contrast, survival of blastocysts produced in SOF + 3 mg/ml BSA in the absence of serum was intermediate, with no difference remaining at 72 h when compared with in vivo embryos. Differences in relative mRNA abundance among the two groups of blastocysts analyzed were found for genes related to apoptosis (Bax), oxidative stress (MnSOD, CuZnSOD, and SOX), communication through gap junctions (Cx31 and Cx43), maternal recognition of pregnancy (IFN-Ï), and differentiation and implantation (LIF and LR-Î²). The presence of serum during the culture period resulted in a significant increase in the level of expression of MnSOD, SOX, Bax, LIF, and LR-Î². The level of expression of Cx31 and Cu/ZnSOD also tended to be increased, although the difference was not significant. In contrast, the level of expression of Cx43 and IFN-Ï was decreased in the presence of serum. In conclusion, using a combination of measures of developmental competence (cleavage and blastocyst rates) and qualitative measures such as cryotolerance and relative mRNA abundance to give a more complete picture of the consequences of modifying medium composition on the embryo, we have shown that conditions of postfertilization culture, in particular, the presence of serum in the medium, can affect the speed of embryo development and the quality of the resulting blastocysts. The reduced cryotolerance of blastocysts generated in the presence of serum is accompanied by deviations in the relative abundance of developmentally important gene transcripts. Omission of serum during the postfertilization culture period can significantly improve the cryotolerance of the blastocysts to a level intermediate between serum-generated blastocysts and those derived in vivo. The challenge now is to try and bridge this gap.
Cloning by somatic cell nuclear transfer requires that epigenetic information possessed by the donor nucleus be reprogrammed to an embryonic state. Little is known, however, about this remodeling process, including when it occurs, its efficiency, and how well epigenetic markings characteristic of normal development are maintained. Examining the fate of epigenetic information associated with imprinted genes during clonal development offers one means of addressing these questions. We examined transcript abundance, allele specificity of imprinted gene expression, and parental allele-specific DNA methylation in cloned mouse blastocysts. Striking disruptions were seen in total transcript abundance and allele specificity of expression for five imprinted genes. Only 4% of clones recapitulated a blastocyst mode of expression for all five genes. Cloned embryos also exhibited extensive loss of allele-specific DNA methylation at the imprinting control regions of the H19 and Snprn genes. Thus, epigenetic errors arise very early in clonal development in the majority of embryos, indicating that reprogramming is inefficient and that some epigenetic information may be lost.
The objective of this study was to examine the time during the postfertilization period that gene expression patterns in in vitro-cultured bovine embryos diverge from those of their in vivo-cultured counterparts. Presumptive bovine zygotes were produced by in vitro maturation and fertilization of immature oocytes collected from the ovaries of slaughtered animals. Approximately 20 h post insemination (hpi), zygotes were denuded and randomly divided into two groups for culture either in vitro, in synthetic oviduct fluid medium, or in vivo, in the ewe oviduct. Embryos were recovered from both systems at approximately 30 hpi (2-cell), 2 (4-cell), 3 (8-cell), 4 (16-cell), 5 (early morula), 6 (compact morula), or 7 (blastocyst) days post insemination. On recovery, they were examined for stage of development and snap frozen in liquid nitrogen for the analysis of transcript abundance using real-time polymerase chain reaction. The transcripts studied were glucose transporter 5, sarcosine oxidase, mitochondrial Mn-superoxide dismutase, connexin 43, interferon tau, insulin-like growth factor II, apoptosis regulator box-Î± and insulin-like growth factor-I receptor, most of which are known from our previous work to differ in terms of transcript abundance in blastocysts derived from culture in vitro or in vivo. The results demonstrate that the relative abundance of the transcripts studied varies throughout the preimplantation period and is strongly influenced by the culture environment. In addition, the data demonstrate that changes in transcript abundance in blastocyst stage embryos are in many cases a consequence of perturbed transcription earlier in development. Depending on the transcript, these differences may be evident by as little as 10 h of initiation of culture. Such information has implications not only for basic biology but also for human assisted reproduction in which there is a move toward culturing embryos to the blastocyst stage, necessitating prolonged culture in vitro under potentially deleterious conditions.
Cytokinesis is incomplete in spermatogenic cells, and the descendants of each stem cell form a clonal syncytium. As a result, a heterozygous mutation in a gene expressed postmeiotically affects all of the haploid spermatids within a syncytium. Previously, we have found that disruption of one copy of the gene for either protamine 1 (PRM1) or protamine 2 (PRM2) in the mouse results in a reduction in the amount of the respective protein, abnormal processing of PRM2, and inability of male chimeras to transmit either the mutant or wild-type allele derived from the 129-genotype embryonic stem cells to the next generation. Although it is believed that protamines are essential for compaction of the sperm nucleus and to protect the DNA from damage, this has not been proven experimentally. To test the hypothesis that failure of chimeras to transmit the 129 genotype to offspring was due to alterations in the organization and integrity of sperm DNA, we used the single-cell DNA electrophoresis (comet) assay, ultrastructural analysis, and the intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) procedure. Comet assay demonstrated a direct correlation between the fraction of sperm with haploinsufficiency of PRM2 and the frequency of sperm with damaged DNA. Ultrastructural analysis revealed reduced compaction of the chromatin. ICSI with PRM2-deficient sperm resulted in activation of most metaphase II-arrested mouse eggs, but few were able to develop to the blastocyst stage. These findings suggest that development fails because of damage to paternal DNA and that PRM2 is crucial for maintaining the integrity of sperm chromatin.
A wave phenomenon of ovarian follicular development in women has recently been documented in our laboratory. The objective of the present study was to characterize follicular waves to determine whether women exhibit major and minor wave patterns of follicle development during the interovulatory interval (IOI). The ovaries of 50 women with clinically normal menstrual cycles were examined daily using transvaginal ultrasonography for one IOI. Profiles of the diameters of all follicles â¥4 mm and the numbers of follicles â¥5 mm were graphed during the IOI. Major waves were defined as those in which one follicle grew to â¥10 mm and exceeded all other follicles by â¥2 mm. Minor waves were defined as those in which follicles developed to a diameter of <10 mm and follicle dominance was not manifest. Blood samples were drawn to measure serum concentrations of estradiol-17Î², LH, and FSH. Women exhibited major and minor patterns of follicular wave dynamics during the IOI. Of the 50 women evaluated, 29/34 women with two follicle waves (85.3%) exhibited a minor-major wave pattern of follicle development and 5 women (14.7%) exhibited a major-major wave pattern. Ten of the 16 women with three follicle waves (62.5%) exhibited a minor-minor-major wave pattern, 3 women (18.8%) exhibited a minor-major-major wave pattern, and 3 women (18.8%) exhibited a major-major-major wave pattern. Documentation of major and minor follicular waves during the menstrual cycle challenges the traditional theory that a single cohort of antral follicles grows only during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.
Development to blastocyst following nuclear transfer is dependent on the donor cell's ability to reprogram its genome to that of a zygote. This reprogramming step is inefficient and may be dependent on a number of factors, including chromatin organization. Trichostatin A (TSA; 0-5 muM), a histone deacetylase inhibitor, was used to increase histone acetylation and 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-aza-dC; 0-5 muM), a DNA methyl-transferase inhibitor, was used to decrease methylation of chromatin in donor cells in an attempt to improve their reprogrammability. Adult fibroblast cells treated with 1.25 or 5 muM TSA had elevated histone H3 acetylation compared to untreated controls. Cells treated with 0.3 muM 5-aza-dC had decreased methylation compared to untreated controls. Both drugs at 0.08 muM caused morphological changes of the donor cells. Development to blastocysts by embryos cloned from donor cells after 0.08 or 0.3 muM 5-aza-dC treatments was lower than in embryos cloned from untreated control cells (9.7% and 4.2%, respectively, vs. 25.1%), whereas 0.08 muM TSA treatment of donor cells increased blastocyst development compared to controls (35.1% vs. 25.1%). These results indicate that partial erasure of preexisting epigenetic marks of donor cells improves subsequent in vitro development of cloned embryos.
The proliferation and differentiation of a stem cell are regulated intrinsically by the stem cell and extrinsically by the stem cell niche. Elucidation of regulatory mechanisms of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), the stem cell of the postnatal male germ line, would be facilitated by in vitro studies that provide a defined microenvironment reconstituted ex vivo. We analyzed the effect of in vitro environment on the maintenance of adult and immature SSCs in a 7-day culture system. Allthough the number of adult and immature SSCs decreased in a time-dependent manner, nearly one in four stem cells (24%) could be maintained in vitro for 7 days. Stem cell maintenance was enhanced by coculture with OP9 bone marrow stroma or L fibroblast cell lines, addition of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor, or utilization of specific culture medium. In contrast, coculture with TM4 or SF7 Sertoli cell lines and addition of activin A or bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) reduced stem cell maintenance in vitro. Only 4% of the stem cells remained when cultured with TM4 cells or activin A, and 6% remained when cultured with SF7 cells or BMP4. These results lead to the hypothesis that suppression of germ cell differentiation improves in vitro maintenance of SSCs by interrupting the unidirectional cascade of spermatogenesis and blocking stem cell differentiation.
The growth and development of follicles within the ovary are highly dependent on autocrine and paracrine signaling involving growth factors from granulosa cells, theca cells, stromal interstitial cells, and the oocytes. The growth factor bone morphogenetic protein-4 (BMP-4) and its receptor (BMPR-IB) have been detected in ovaries, and a mutation in BMPR-IB has been associated with abnormal ovulation rate. The objective of the current study was to examine the role that BMP-4 plays in the early stages of primordial follicle development. Ovaries from 4-day-old rats were placed into a whole-ovary organ culture system for 2 wk to investigate the effect that treatment with exogenous BMP-4 has on early follicle development. BMP-4-treated ovaries had a significantly higher proportion of developing primary follicles and fewer arrested primordial follicles than did untreated controls. This indicates that BMP-4 promotes primordial follicle development and the primordial-to-primary follicle transition. Ovaries were also treated with neutralizing antibody against BMP-4 to determine effects of removing endogenously produced BMP-4. Interestingly, ovaries treated with BMP-4 antibody were markedly smaller than controls. This was associated with a progressive loss of oocytes and primordial follicles, a progressive increase in cellular apoptosis, and an accompanying loss of normal ovarian tissue morphology over time. Immunocytochemistry localized BMP-4 protein to isolated stromal cell populations, selected stromal cells (i.e., pretheca cells) associated with developing primordial follicles, and the basement membrane of follicles. Ovaries were treated with BMP-4 and RNA collected after organ culture to determine whether BMP-4 signaling affects expression of other growth factors. Kit ligand and basic fibroblast growth factor expression was unchanged, but TGFÎ± expression was decreased in whole ovaries. Taken together, these data suggest that BMP-4 plays an important role in promoting the survival and development of primordial follicles in the neonatal ovary.
Ectopic grafting of testicular tissue is a promising new approach that can be used to preserve testicular function. This technique has been used recently to differentiate the neonatal testes of different species, up to the level of complete spermatogenesis. This approach can be applied successfully to generate live progeny using sperm extracted from grafts originating from testes of newborn donors. The sperm are capable of supporting normal development and producing fertile male and female offspring after intracytoplasmic injection into mouse oocytes and embryo transfer into surrogate mothers. The grafted tissue was also capable of significantly normalizing reproductive hormone levels in the castrated recipients. This technique presents new avenues for experimentation. The recipient mouse can be regarded as a living incubator and a culture system of testicular tissue, allowing the experimental manipulation of several aspects of testis development and spermatogenesis. The successful generation of pups indicates that this technqiue can be used to study the testicular phenotype and to breed mutant or transgenic mouse strains with lethal postnatal phenotypes. The ability to generate sperm from the germ line ex vivo also paves the way for the development of new strategies for preserving fertility in boys undergoing cancer therapy.
Dendritic cells (DCs) in the pregnant human uterine mucosa have been poorly characterized, although they are likely to regulate immune responses to both placental trophoblast cells and uterine infections. In this study an HLA-DR + , CD11c + lin â (CD3 â , CD19 â , CD56 â , CD14 â ) population has been identified by three-color flow cytometry. The cell isolates were prepared either by collagenase digestion or mechanically from first-trimester decidual tissue. The decidual DCs comprised â¼1.7% of CD45 + cells in the isolates and had the phenotype of immature myeloid DCs. No CD1a + Langerhans cells or CD123 + plasmacytoid DCs were detected. The decidual DCs were DC-SIGN â , DEC-205 + , CD40 + . Two subsets could be distinguished on the basis of relative expression of HLA-DR, which also differed in expression of DC-activation markers. The DCs were identified in situ by immunohistology by DEC-205 staining. Cells with dendritic processes were found scattered through both the decidua basalis (in which trophoblast cells are infiltrating) and the decidua parietalis. They were also visible in endothelial-lined spaces. This is the first study to identify and describe the phenotype and distribution of human decidual DCs.
Hyperactivated sperm motility is usually characterized by high-amplitude flagellar bends and asymmetrical flagellar beating. There is evidence that an inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP 3 ) receptor-gated Ca 2+ store in the base of the flagellum provides Ca 2+ to initiate hyperactivation; however, the identity of the store was not known. Ca 2+ stores are membrane-bounded organelles, and the only two membrane-bounded organelles found in this region of sperm are the redundant nuclear envelope (RNE) and mitochondria. Transmission electron micrographs revealed two different compartments of RNE, one enriched with nuclear pores and the other containing few pores but extensive membranous structures with enlarged cisternae. Immunolabeling showed that IP 3 receptors and calreticulin are located in the region containing enlarged cisternae. In other cell types, mitochondria adjacent to Ca 2+ stores are actively involved in modulating Ca 2+ signals by taking up Ca 2+ released from stores and also may respond by increasing production of NADH and ATP to support increased energy demand. Nevertheless, bull sperm did not show an increase in NADH when Ca 2+ was released from intracellular stores by thapsigargin to induce hyperactivation. Consistently, no net increase in ATP production was detected when sperm were hyperactivated, although ATP was hydrolyzed at a greater rate. Furthermore, blocking Ca 2+ efflux from mitochondria by CGP-37157, a specific inhibitor of the mitochondrial Na + /Ca 2+ exchanger, did not inhibit the development of hyperactivated motility. We concluded that the intracellular Ca 2+ store is the part of RNE that contains enlarged cisternae and that Ca 2+ is released directly to the axoneme to trigger hyperactivated motility without the active participation of mitochondria.
Abstract The postimplantation developmental potential of embryos can be affected by various forms of cell death, such as apoptosis, at preimplantation stages. However, correct assessment of apoptosis is needed for adequate inference of the developmental significance of this process. This study is the first to investigate the independent chronological occurrence of apoptotic changes in nuclear morphology and DNA degradation (detected by the TUNEL reaction) and incidences of nuclei displaying these features at various preimplantation stages of bovine embryos produced both in vivo and in vitro. Different elements of apoptosis were observed at various developmental stages and appeared to be differentially affected by in vitro production. Nuclear condensation was observed from the 6-cell stage in vitro and the 8-cell stage in vivo, whereas the TUNEL reaction was first observed at the 6-cell stage in vitro and the 21-cell stage in vivo. Morphological signs of other forms of cell death were also observed in norm...
Abstract Early gestation is critical for placentomal growth, differentiation, and vascularization, as well as fetal organogenesis. The fetal origins of adult disease hypothesis proposes that alterations in fetal nutrition and endocrine status result in developmental adaptations that permanently change structure, physiology, and metabolism, thereby predisposing individuals to cardiovascular, metabolic, and endocrine disease in adult life. Multiparous ewes were fed to 50% (nutrient restricted) or 100% (control fed) of total digestible nutrients from Days 28 to 78 of gestation. All ewes were weighed weekly and diets adjusted for individual weight loss or gain. Ewes were killed on Day 78 of gestation and gravid uteri recovered. Fetal body and organ weights were determined, and numbers, morphologies, diameters, and weights of all placentomes were obtained. From Day 28 to Day 78, restricted ewes lost 7.4% of body weight, while control ewes gained 7.5%. Maternal and fetal blood glucose concentrations were reduce...
Transplantation of spermatogonial stem cells into syngeneic or immunosuppressed recipient mice or rats can result in donor-derived spermatogenesis and fertility. Recently, this approach has been employed to introduce a transgene into the male germline. Germ-cell transplantation in species other than laboratory rodents, if successful, holds great promise as an alternative to the inefficient methods currently available to generate transgenic farm animals that can produce therapeutic proteins in their milk or provide organs for transplantation to humans. To explore whether germ-cell transplantation could result in donor-derived spermatogenesis and fertility in immunocompetent recipient goats, testis cells were transplanted from transgenic donor goats carrying a human alpha-1 antitrypsin expression construct to the testes of sexually immature wild-type recipient goats. After puberty, sperm carrying the donor-derived transgene were detected in the ejaculates of two out of five recipients. Mating of one recipient resulted in 15 offspring, one of which was transgenic for the donor-derived transgene. This is the first report of donor cell-derived sperm production and transmission of the donor haplotype to the next generation after germ-cell transplantation in a nonrodent species. Furthermore, these results indicate that successful germ-cell transplantation is feasible between immunocompetent, unrelated animals. In the future, transplantation of genetically modified germ cells may provide a more efficient alternative for production of transgenic domestic animals.
Abstract In an attempt to find a suitable freezing method for goat semen, two experiments were conducted to study the influence of trehalose on the cryopreservation of goat spermatozoa. In experiment 1, goat spermatozoa were frozen in trehalose extender (0.375 M) alone (100%) or at different combinations of trehalose with Tris-citric acid-glucose (TCG) extender (0%, 25%, 50%, 75%). Final concentrations of 20% (v:v) egg yolk and 4% (v:v) glycerol were employed in the extenders (osmolality = 370, pH = 7). Sperm motility was assessed using a computer-assisted sperm analysis system and acrosome integrity was assessed using fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled peanut agglutinin (FITC-PNA). The sperm-motility parameters improved significantly by increasing the concentration of trehalose (P < 0.05) and significantly high recovery rates for the motility parameters were also achieved by a high concentration of trehalose (P < 0.05). Motility of the frozen-thawed spermatozoa after a 3-h incubation improved significant...
Dendritic cells (DCs) in the pregnant human uterine mucosa have been poorly characterized, although they are likely to regulate immune responses to both placental trophoblast cells and uterine infections. In this study an HLA-DR+, CD11c(+) lin(-)(CD3(-), CD19(-), CD56(-), CD14(-)) population has been identified by three-color flow cytometry. The cell isolates were prepared either by collagenase digestion or mechanically from first-trimester decidual tissue. The decidual DCs comprised similar to1.7% of CD45(+) cells in the isolates, and had the phenotype of immature myeloid DCs. No CD1a(+) Langerhans cells or CD123(+) plasmacytoid DCs were detected. The decidual DCs were DC-SIGN(-), DEC-205(+), CD40(+). Two subsets could be distinguished on the basis of relative expression of HLA-DR, which also differed in expression of DC-activation markers. The DCs were identified in situ by immunohistology by DEC-205 staining. Cells with dendritic processes were found scattered through both the decidua basalis (in which trophoblast cells are infiltrating) and the decidua parietalis. They were also visible in endothelial-lined spaces. This is the first study to identify and describe the phenotype and distribution of human decidual DCs.