The decidua—the maternal bed embracing the embryo—maintains the pregnancy

Mayumi Mori, Agnes Bogdan, Timea Balassa, Timea Csabai, Júlia Szekeres-Bartho

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

48 Citations (Scopus)


The decidua has been known as maternal uterine tissue, which plays essential roles in protecting the embryo from being attacked by maternal immune cells and provides nutritional support for the developing embryo prior to placenta formation. However, there are questions that still remain to be answered: (1) How does the decidua supply nutrition and provide a physical scaffold for the growing embryo, before placental vascular connection is established? (2) How is the balance between preventing an anti-embryo immune response and protecting both embryo and mother from infections established? To understand basic personas in decidual tissues, we review the structure of the decidua composed of terminally differentiated uterine stromal cells, blood vessels, and a number of repertoire of uterine local immune cells, including the well-known uterine natural killer (uNK) cells and recently discovered innate lymphoid cells (ILCs). Decidual macrophages and uterine dendritic cells (DCs) are supposed to modulate adaptive immunity via balancing cytokines and promoting generation of regulatory T (Treg) cells. During decidualization, vascular and tissue remodeling in the uterus provide nutritional and physical support for the developing embryo. Secretion of various cytokines and chemokines from both the embryo and the decidual cells activates multiple signaling network between the mother and the embryo upon implantation. Defects in the decidual development during early pregnancy result in loss of pregnancy or complications in later gestational stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-649
Number of pages15
JournalSeminars in Immunopathology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Decidua
  • Endometrium
  • Infertility
  • Preeclampsia
  • Pregnancy
  • Vascular remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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