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Hum Reprod Update. 2001 Mar-Apr;7(2):113-34.

Human reproductive failure I: immunological factors.

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Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK.


Human reproductive failure may be a consequence of aberrant expression of immunological factors during pregnancy. Although the relative importance of immunological factors in human reproduction remains controversial, substantial evidence suggests that human leukocyte antigens (HLA), antisperm antibodies, integrins, the leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF), cytokines, antiphospholipid antibodies, endometrial adhesion factors, mucins (MUC1) and uterine natural killer cells contribute to reproductive failure. In contrast, fewer data support the roles of anti-trophoblast antibodies, anti-endometrial antibodies, T-cells, peripheral natural killer cells, anti-HLA antibodies, blocking antibodies and suppressor cells in reproductive failure. Although immunological factors involved in reproductive failure have been studied traditionally using assays for antibodies and/or antigens, detailed research on these factors demonstrates conflicting results in humans. Maternal and fetal immunology is also difficult to investigate in humans. For these reasons, molecular assays may serve as a valuable alternative to investigate how the immune system affects reproductive outcome. In Part I of this review, immunological factors involved in human reproductive failure are summarized and critically evaluated. Immunogenetic and interacting factors in human reproductive failure will be summarized and evaluated in Part II.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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