University of Oulu

The search for links between immunogenetic factors and recurrent miscarriage

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Author: Karhukorpi, Jari1,2,3
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Microbiology
2Oulu University Hospital, Laboratory of Microbiology
3North Karelian Central Hospital, Laboratory of Microbiology
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2005
Publish Date: 2005-05-31
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the Auditorium of Kastelli Research Center (Aapistie 1), on June 10th, 2005, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Docent Marja-Liisa Lokki
Professor Markku Seppälä


Successful pregnancy is characterized by a shift toward Th2 type immune response and suppression of adaptive immune responses to ensure acceptance of the semi-allogenic fetal graft. Also the innate immune system plays a major role during pregnancy. Recurrent miscarriage is defined as three or more consecutive pregnancy losses. About 1% of all women will suffer recurrent miscarriage. The causes of recurrent miscarriage remain unexplained in half (50%) of the cases. Susceptibility to recurrent miscarriage is probably mediated by Th1 type immune response with pronounced expression and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g. TNFα and IFNγ) paralleled with decreased production of anti-inflammatory cytokines (e.g. IL-10). Factors that regulate immune response during pregnancy include hormonal factors (e.g. hCG and progesterone). Immunogenetic factors also contribute to this regulation. Several functionally important polymorphisms in various immunomodulatory genes have been identified during recent years. Some of these polymorphisms may be important in regulating the Th1/Th2 balance during pregnancy. Putative immune dysregulation caused by these polymorphisms has been researched intensively. Conflicting results have been published about associations between several of these polymorphisms and recurrent miscarriage.

In this study, HLA-G (exon 2 and 3), IL-10 (-1082A/G), IL-1RA (intron 2 VNTR) and CD14 (-159C/T) polymorphisms were studied in 38 Finnish women with RM. All of these polymorphisms have been associated with altered gene expression. Distribution of HLA-G*I, II, III and IV were 0.577, 0.375, 0 and 0.048 respectively in the studied Finnish population. According to the present classification the G*I allele group mostly consists of the allele 010101, while G*II covers the combination of 010102, 010401 and 0105N, as well as some other rare alleles. There were no associations between recurrent miscarriage and the HLA-G, IL-10 and CD14 polymorphisms. However, in IL-1RA polymorphism, the rare IL1RN*3 allele was increased in women with recurrent miscarriage. It is not known, if this particular allele is associated with differences in IL-1RA or IL-1 production.

Although the study population was small, it may be supposed that quantitative differences in the production of single immunomodulatory molecules due to normal genetic variation may not be grossly harmful to the fetal allograft. This indicates the robustness and flexibility of the reproduction system. For survival, it is essential that minor variations are tolerated. Thus, large-scale studies focusing on the effect of a pro-inflammatory genetic profile based on the presence of several pro/anti-inflammatory genetic markers are needed to discover if immunogenetic factors predispose women to recurrent miscarriage.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 951-42-7744-9
ISBN Print: 951-42-7743-0
Issue: 833
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2005. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.