The goal of the current study was to characterize the immune cell types within the primate corpus luteum (CL). Luteal tissue was collected from rhesus females at discrete intervals during the luteal phase of the natural menstrual cycle. Dispersed cells were incubated with fluorescently labeled antibodies specific for the immune cell surface proteins CD11b (neutrophils and monocytes/macrophages), CD14 (monocytes/macrophages), CD16 (natural killer [NK] cells), CD20 (B-lymphocytes), and CD3epsilon (T-lymphocytes) for analysis by flow cytometry. Numbers of CD11b-positive (CD11b ) and CD14 cells increased significantly 3 to 4 days after serum progesterone (P4) concentrations declined below 0.3 ng/ml. CD16 cells were the most abundant immune cell type in CL during the mid and mid-late luteal phases and were 3-fold increased 3 to 4 days after serum P4 decreased to baseline levels. CD3epsilon cells tended to increase 3 to 4 days after P4 decline. To determine whether immune cells were upregulated by the loss of luteotropic (LH) support or through loss of LH-dependent steroid milieu, monkeys were assigned to 4 groups: control (no treatment), the GnRH antagonist Antide, Antide plus synthetic progestin (R5020), or Antide plus the estrogen receptor agonists diarylpropionitrile (DPN)/propyl-pyrazole-triol (PPT) during the mid-late luteal phase. Antide treatment increased the numbers of CD11b and CD14 cells, whereas progestin, but not estrogen, replacement suppressed the numbers of CD11b , CD14 , and CD16 cells. Neither Antide nor steroid replacement altered numbers of CD3epsilon cells. These data suggest that increased numbers of innate immune cells in primate CL after P4 synthesis declines play a role in onset of structural regression of primate CL.
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Vol. 93 • No. 5