Maternal decidual CD8+ T cells must integrate the antithetical demands of providing immunity to infection while maintaining immune tolerance for fetal and placental antigens. Human decidual CD8+ T cells were shown to be highly differentiated memory T cells with mixed signatures of dysfunction, activation, and effector function. However, no information is present on how specificity for microbial or fetal antigens relates to their function or dysfunction. In addition, a key question, whether decidual CD8+ T cells include unique tissue-resident memory T cells (Trm) or also effector memory T cell (Tem) types shared with peripheral blood populations, is unknown. Here, high-dimensional flow cytometry of decidual and blood CD8+ T cells identified 2 Tem populations shared in blood and decidua and 9 functionally distinct Trm clusters uniquely found in decidua. Interestingly, fetus- and virus-specific decidual CD8+ Trm cells had similar features of inhibition and cytotoxicity, with no significant differences in their expression of activation, inhibitory, and cytotoxic molecules, suggesting that not all fetus-specific CD8+ T cell responses are suppressed at the maternal-fetal interface. Understanding how decidual CD8+ T cell specificity relates to their function and tissue residency is crucial in advancing understanding of their contribution to placental inflammation and control of congenital infections.
Shweta Mahajan, Aria Alexander, Zachary Koenig, Nicholas Saba, Nina Prasanphanich, David A. Hildeman, Claire A. Chougnet, Emily DeFranco, Sandra Andorf, Tamara Tilburgs