Dynamics of immune cell types within the macaque corpus luteum during the menstrual cycle: Role of progesterone

Cecily V. Bishop, Fuhua Xu, Theodore A. Molskness, Richard L. Stouffer, Jon D. Hennebold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Corpus luteum
  • Luteal regression
  • Macrophage
  • Natural killer cell
  • Neutrophil
  • Primate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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