Obesogenic diet exposure alters uterine natural killer cell biology and impairs vasculature remodeling in mice.
Biol Reprod. 2019 Aug 22. Epub 2019 Aug 22. PMID: 31436293
Pre-pregnancy obesity associates with adverse reproductive outcomes that impact maternal and fetal health. While obesity-driven mechanisms underlying adverse pregnancy outcomes remain unclear, local uterine immune cells are strong but poorly studied candidates. Uterine immune cells, particularly uterine natural killer cells (uNK), play central roles in orchestrating developmental events in pregnancy. However, the effect of obesity on uNK biology is poorly understood. Using an obesogenic high fat/high sugar diet (HFD) mouse model, we set out to examine the effects of maternal obesity on uNK composition and establishment of the maternal-fetal interface. HFD exposure resulted in weight gain-dependent increases in systemic inflammation and rates of fetal resorption. While HFD did not affect total uNK frequencies, HFD exposure did lead to an increase in natural cytotoxicity receptor-1 expressing uNKs as well as overall uNK activity. Importantly, HFD-associated changes in uNK coincided with impairments in uterine artery remodeling in mid but not late pregnancy. Comparison of uNK mRNA transcripts from control and HFD mice identified HFD-directed changes in genes that play roles in promoting activity/cytotoxicity and vascular biology. Together, this work provides new insight into how obesity may impact uNK-processes central to the establishment of the maternal-fetal interface in early and mid pregnancy. Moreover, these findings shed light on the cellular processes affected by maternal obesity that may relate to overall pregnancy health.