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Hum Reprod. 2010 Nov;25(11):2745-52. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deq242. Epub 2010 Sep 7.

H-Y antibody titers are increased in unexplained secondary recurrent miscarriage patients and associated with low male : female ratio in subsequent live births.

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  • 1The Fertility Clinic 4071, University Hospital Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 9, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen Ø, Denmark.



The birth of a boy is significantly more common than a girl prior to secondary recurrent miscarriage (SRM) and is associated with a poorer chance of a subsequent live birth. Children born after SRM are more likely to be girls. High-titer antisera specific for male antigens (H-Y) have been shown to arrest development of male bovine embryos efficiently. We consequently questioned the role of H-Y antibodies in women with SRM.


Serum samples from patients with unexplained SRM (n = 84), unexplained primary recurrent miscarriage (PRM) (n = 12) and healthy women (n = 37) were obtained. The samples were taken during pregnancy (gestational weeks 4-5) for 77 (80%) of the patients. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was used to detect immunoglobulin G antibodies that specifically recognized any of the five recombinant H-Y proteins (EIF1AY, RPS4Y1, ZFY, DDX3Y and UTY) and their H-X homologs.


H-Y-specific antibodies were more frequent in SRM patients (46%) compared with female controls (19%, P = 0.004) and PRM patients (8%, P = 0.01). The presence of H-Y antibodies in early pregnancy was associated with a low male: female birth ratio among the subsequent live births, as only 12% of children born to H-Y antibody-positive patients were boys compared with 44% boys born to H-Y antibody negative patients (P = 0.03).


The high frequency of H-Y antibody-positive SRM patients and the association between the presence of these antibodies in early pregnancy and the low number of male offspring, suggest that maternal immune responses against H-Y antigens can cause pregnancy losses. Further exploring these mechanisms may increase our understanding of unexplained SRM.

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