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    In situ production and metabolism of all-trans retinoic acid (RA) in decidual tissue are critically important for endometrial stromal differentiation, embryo implantation, and healthy placentation. However, the cellular source(s) of RA in this tissue has yet to be determined. To identify the primary RA-producing cells in human term decidua, we isolated cells from decidua basalis of delivered placenta and quantified cellular retinal dehydrogenase (RALDH) activity, a major biosynthetic enzyme whose activity determines the synthesis of RA from retinol, using an Aldefluor assay and flow cytometry. RA production in decidual tissue and sorted cell subpopulations was evaluated by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. CD14+ cells (macrophages/monocytes) showed >‚ÄČ4-fold higher RALDH activity than stromal cells (CD10+), T cells (CD3+), or non-T lymphocytes (CD3-negative). CD11c+ cells that did not co-express CD14 showed about one-third the RALDH activity of their CD14 co-expressing counterparts. The highest RALDH activity was found in "alternatively activated" M2 macrophages delineated by the simultaneous expression of CD14 and CD163. The greater RA synthesizing capacity of M2 versus CD14+CD163-ve (M1) cells was confirmed by direct quantitation of RA biosynthesis from retinol. RA levels in whole decidua were correlated with M2 cell density but not with stromal cell (CD10+) number, the major cell type comprising the decidua. These results identified M2 monocyte/macrophages as the primary source of RA in human term decidua. This finding may have implications for certain pregnancy complications that are known to be associated with reduced numbers of decidual M2 cells.


    Augustine Rajakumar, Maureen A Kane, Jianshi Yu, Jace W Jones, Hongyan Qu, Martina Badell, Robert N Taylor, Neil Sidell. Alternatively Activated Macrophages Are the Primary Retinoic Acid-Producing Cells in Human Decidua. Reproductive sciences (Thousand Oaks, Calif.). 2020 Jan;27(1):334-341

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    PMID: 32046391

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