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Am J Reprod Immunol Microbiol. 1988 Dec;18(4):111-5.

HLA sharing and fertility in Hutterite couples: evidence for prenatal selection against compatible fetuses.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago.


Antigenic differences between mother and fetus (i.e., blood group incompatibilities) were traditionally considered deleterious for viviparous reproduction. Recently, evidence has accumulated suggesting that maternal response to paternally derived fetal antigens, paradoxically, may facilitate maintenance of pregnancy. Thus, fetuses whose paternally derived antigens do not differ from maternal antigens (i.e., histocompatible pregnancies) may be at a selective disadvantage during pregnancy. Parents sharing histocompatibility antigens (i.e., HLA) may produce compatible fetuses and show overall reduced fertility. Indeed, increased HLA sharing has been reported in some couples experiencing repetitive spontaneous abortion. However, the effects of HLA sharing in couples not selected because of previous pregnancy losses have not been assessed. To elucidate the reproductive effects of maternal-fetal histocompatibility, we initiated prospective population-based studies of parental HLA sharing and reproductive outcome in the Hutterites, a population isolate that lives communally and proscribes contraception. The relationship between HLA-A, -B, and -DR sharing and reproductive outcome was examined in 111 Hutterite couples. Intervals from marriage to each birth were no longer among couples sharing antigens; differences were significant at the second birth and remained significant through the sixth birth (P less than .05). When the effects of sharing at individual loci were examined, HLA-DR was the only individual locus that was a significant predictor of birth interval length (P = .025). Completed family sizes were 6.5 and 9.0 among couples sharing and not sharing HLA-DR, respectively (P = .082, 2-tailed). However, recognized fetal loss rates did not differ among couples sharing and not sharing antigens.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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