Research sheds new light on cells implicated in recurrent miscarriage

July 17, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- University of Birmingham scientists have discovered that one of the body’s key immune cells remains active against the fetus during pregnancy, a finding that offers fresh understanding of the complex relationship between the mother and baby during pregnancy and offers insights to the potential causes of miscarriage and stillbirth among women.

In a study published in the Journal of Immunology today Dr David Lissauer and colleagues in the School of Clinical and Experimental Medicine and the School of Cancer Sciences used new techniques to detect a type of T- known as CD8 that were directed against the fetus during and not deleted by the body, as previously thought.

In normal healthy pregnant women, further mechanisms must exist to prevent these cells from harming the developing baby. But this work indicates that in some women, where these protective mechanisms aren’t working, the CD8 T cells are circulating in the mother’s body, ready to potentially cause problems.

CD8 T cells are best known for their role recognising and attacking foreign organisms to protect the body from infection or causing the rejection of transplanted organs.

‘This is a scientific observation that is important in understanding the complex relationship between mother and fetus,’ says Dr Lissauer. ‘There may be some women in whom these cells are causing problems.

‘We now recognise that fetal cells and material crosses into the mother’s circulation during pregnancy and our work shows that this is sufficient to trigger the mother’s immune system to produce T cells directed against the baby. Of course, in most women mechanisms exist to protect the baby from these cells but we now need to find out what is going wrong in who experience problems during pregnancy, like recurrent .

The team is collaborating with the PROMISE clinical trial being co-ordinated by the University of Birmingham, which is exploring progesterone as a potential treatment for recurrent miscarriage.

The team concludes: ‘Our observations indicate that the study of adaptive T-cell immune responses against the fetus should be an important area of future obstetric investigations.’

Explore further: Researchers may have discovered key to help women fight infections during pregnancy

More information: Fetal-Specific CD8+ Cytotoxic T Cell Responses Develop during Normal Human Pregnancy and Exhibit Broad Functional Capacity. Journal of Immunology.

Related Stories

Researchers may have discovered key to help women fight infections during pregnancy

July 21, 2011
A normal but concerning consequence of pregnancy is the fact that pregnant women are more susceptible to infection. University of Minnesota Medical School researchers have identified the underlying mechanisms for this physiologic ...

Obesity in pregnancy hinders women's ability to fight infection

May 1, 2011
Pregnant women who are obese are less able to fight infections than lean women, which could affect their baby's health after birth and later in life, according to research to be presented Sunday, May 1, at the Pediatric Academic ...

How pregnancy changes a woman's brain

December 21, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- We know a lot about the links between a pregnant mother’s health, behavior, and moods and her baby’s cognitive and psychological development once it is born. But how does pregnancy change a mother’s ...

Three types of fetal cells can migrate into maternal organs during pregnancy

June 6, 2012
A pregnant woman's blood stream contains not only her own cells, but a small number of her child's, as well, and some of them remain in her internal organs long after the baby is born. Understanding the origin and identity ...

A new clue to predicting pre-eclampsia

May 9, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- An indication of whether a mother will develop pre-eclampsia, the most common and severe pregnancy-related disease, has been identified by a University of Sydney study.

A fetus can sense mom’s psychological state

November 10, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- As a fetus grows, it’s constantly getting messages from its mother. It’s not just hearing her heartbeat and whatever music she might play to her belly; it also gets chemical signals through the ...

Recommended for you

Drug could cut transplant rejection

November 21, 2017
A diabetes drug currently undergoing development could be repurposed to help end transplant rejection, without the side-effects of current immunosuppressive drugs, according to new research by Queen Mary University of London ...

Study explores whole-body immunity

November 21, 2017
Over the next few months, millions of people will receive vaccinations in the hope of staving off the flu—and the fever, pain, and congestion that come with it.

Atopic eczema—one size does not fit all

November 21, 2017
Researchers from the UK and Netherlands have identified five distinct subgroups of eczema, a finding that helps explain how the condition can affect people at different stages of their lives.

Breast milk found to protect against food allergy

November 20, 2017
Eating allergenic foods during pregnancy can protect your child from food allergies, especially if you breastfeed, suggests new research from Boston Children's Hospital. The study, published online today in the Journal of ...

Zika-related nerve damage caused by immune response to the virus

November 20, 2017
The immune system's response to the Zika virus, rather than the virus itself, may be responsible for nerve-related complications of infection, according to a Yale study. This insight could lead to new ways of treating patients ...

How a poorly explored immune cell may impact cancer immunity and immunotherapy

November 17, 2017
The immune cells that are trained to fight off the body's invaders can become defective. It's what allows cancer to develop. So most research has targeted these co-called effector T-cells.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.