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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2013, Article ID 542152, 9 pages
Review Article

Mucins Help to Avoid Alloreactivity at the Maternal Fetal Interface

1Department of Physiology and Immunology, Medical Faculty, University of Rijeka, B. Branchetta 20, 51000 Rijeka, Croatia
2Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology, Clinical Hospital Rijeka, Kresimirova 42, 51000 Rijeka, Croatia
3Division of Cardiology, Hospital for Medical Rehabilitation of the Heart and Lung Diseases and Rheumatism “Thalassotherapia”, M. Tita 188, 51410 Opatija, Croatia
4Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Clinical Hospital, University of Rijeka, Kresimirova 42a, 51000 Rijeka, Croatia

Received 10 April 2013; Accepted 28 May 2013

Academic Editor: Stanislav Vukmanovic

Copyright © 2013 Arnela Redzovic et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


During gestation, many different mechanisms act to render the maternal immune system tolerant to semi-allogeneic trophoblast cells of foetal origin, including those mediated via mucins that are expressed during the peri-implantation period in the uterus. Tumour- associated glycoprotein-72 (TAG-72) enhances the already established tolerogenic features of decidual dendritic cells with the inability to progress towards Th1 immune orientation due to lowered interferon (IFN)-γ and interleukin (IL)-15 expression. Mucine 1 (Muc 1) supports alternative activation of decidual macrophages, restricts the proliferation of decidual regulatory CD56+ bright natural killer (NK) cells, and downregulates their cytotoxic potential, including cytotoxic mediator protein expression. Removing TAG-72 and Muc 1 from the eutopic implantation site likely contributes to better control of trophoblast invasion by T cells and NK cells and appears to have important immunologic advantages for successful implantation, in addition to mechanical advantages. However, these processes may lead to uncontrolled trophoblast growth after implantation, inefficient defence against infection or tumours, and elimination of unwanted immunocompetent cells at the maternal-foetal interface. The use of mucins by tumour cells to affect the local microenvironment in order to avoid the host immune response and to promote local tumour growth, invasion, and metastasis confirms this postulation.