*(X-Y Qin, H-H Shen and X-Y Zhang contributed equally to this work)
Hypoxia is vital for the establishment of the maternal–fetal interface during early pregnancy. This study shows that decidual macrophages (dMφ) could be recruited and reside in decidua under the regulation of hypoxia/VEGFA-CCL2 axis.
Infiltration and residence of decidual macrophages (dMφ) are of great significance to pregnancy maintenance for their role in angiogenesis, placental development, and inducing immune tolerance. Besides, hypoxia has now been acknowledged as an important biological event at maternal–fetal interface in the first trimester. However, whether and how hypoxia regulates biofunctions of dMφ remain elusive. Herein, we observed increased expression of C–C motif chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) and residence of macrophages in decidua compared to secretory-phase endometrium. Moreover, hypoxia treatment on stromal cells improved the migration and adhesion of dMφ. Mechanistically, these effects might be mediated by upregulated CCL2 and adhesion molecules (especially ICAM2 and ICAM5) on stromal cells in the presence of endogenous vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGFA) in hypoxia. These findings were also verified by recombinant VEGFA and indirect coculture, indicating that the interaction between stromal cells and dMφ in hypoxia condition may facilitate dMφ recruitment and residence. In conclusion, VEGFA derived from a hypoxic environment may manipulate CCL2/CCR2 and adhesion molecules to enhance the interactions between dMφ and stromal cells and thus contribute to the enrichment of macrophages in decidua early during normal pregnancy.
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