University of Dundee, MSc Human Clinical Embryology and Assisted Conception - Apply now for September 2018
Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_93746

'Super-fertility' to blame for some recurrent miscarriages, study suggests

28 August 2012
Appeared in BioNews 670

Women who repeatedly reject pregnancies may be 'too good' at carrying, research indicates.

Recurrent miscarriage [RM], defined as three or more consecutive miscarriages, affects between one and two percent of couples trying to conceive. In more than 50 percent of cases, the causes of RM are unknown.

Professor Nick Macklon, of the University Hospital Southampton, who led the UK-Dutch collaborative study, said: 'We have discovered that [the causes of RM] may not be because [women] cannot carry; it is because they may simply be super-fertile, as they allow embryos which would not normally survive to implant'. Implantation is the name for the process where an embryo attaches to the lining of the uterus, shortly after conception.

The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, looked at the endometrial stromal cells (H-EnSCs) of women with a history of RM. H-EnSCs line the uterus and are actively involved in the process of embryo implantation and may play a 'quality control' function.

In women unaffected by RM, H-EnSCs were found to regulate their behaviour in response to the quality of embryo presented. They grew towards high-quality embryos, but did not when confronted by a low-quality embryo, thereby ensuring only viable embryos progressed to pregnancy. In contrast, these cells failed to discern between high- and low-quality embryos in women with a history of RM.

The authors suggest that in RM this failure of H-EnSC quality control allows the implantation of poor quality embryos, leading to pregnancy and, ultimately, miscarriage as fetal development fails.

Professor Macklon said these results offer women 'a clearer understanding of the causes [of RM], they are not too bad at carrying but perhaps too good'.

Currently, no treatment options are available to women who experience RM, but Professor Macklon described these findings as a 'significant moment for sufferers'.

Dr Siobhan Quenby, from the Royal College Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, who was not involved in the study, agreed. She told BBC News: 'This theory is really quite attractive. It is lovely. It's a really important paper that will change the way we think about implantation'.

The mechanisms underlying the 'quality control' sensor remain poorly understood, and are expected to be the focus of future research.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Endometrial Stromal Cells of Women with Recurrent Miscarriage Fail to Discriminate between High- and Low-Quality Human Embryos
PLOS ONE |  25 July 2012
Recurrent miscarriage 'caused by super-fertility'
Daily Telegraph |  24 August 2012
Recurrent miscarriages clue found
Press Association |  24 August 2012
Super-fertility offers clue to recurrent miscarriage
BBC News |  24 August 2012
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
30 November 2015 - by Rikita Patel 
Progesterone supplementation in the first trimester of pregnancy does not improve outcomes for women with unexplained recurrent miscarriages, according to a large clinical trial...
17 February 2014 - by Dr Shanya Sivakumaran 
An 'entrance exam' set by the cells that line the womb can determine whether or not human embryos are able to implant into the womb's lining, according to researchers...
31 January 2012 - by Ayesha Jadoon 
A new method of looking for chromosomal abnormalities in embryos can increase the chance of successful IVF implantation, a recent study in the journal Fertilisation In Vitro has shown....
11 July 2011 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Some of the highlights from the 27th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction (ESHRE) in Stockholm include good news for sperm donation in the UK; advice about how to reduce the effects of tobacco on unborn children; a 'non invasive' screening technique for chromosomal abnormalities in embryos; and a mathematical model to help reduce multiple births in IVF procedures...
3 May 2011 - by Dr Charlotte Maden 
A new study looking at the regulation of egg production in mice ovaries has identified a defect in 'quality control', which may help scientists understand why some women have a miscarriage during pregnancy...
8 July 2002 - by BioNews 
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) could help some women who suffer from repeated unexplained miscarriages. Carmen Rubio, co-ordinator of a PGD programme in Spain, told the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) last week that her research showed that chromosomal abnormalities could be partly to...
4 February 2002 - by BioNews 
Scientists believe that they have discovered a 'rogue gene' that predisposes people to blood clots and may therefore cause some women to suffer recurrent or late miscarriages. It is thought that mutations in the Factor V Leiden (FVL) gene cause clots in blood vessels in the placenta, which increase the...
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.