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Am J Reprod Immunol Microbiol. 1987 Dec;15(4):141-9.

Prenatal effects of maternal-fetal HLA compatibility.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois 60611.


Both retrospective studies of idiopathic aborters, as well as prospective studies of normal couples, have shown reduced fertility among couples sharing HLA antigens. However, the effects of maternal-fetal histocompatibility on surviving embryos are largely univestigated. We thus prospectively studied 53 healthy, fertile women whose timed pregnancies were verified within 21 days of conception. Maternal-fetal histocompatibility status was determined for HLA-A,-B, and -DR locus antigens. Fetal growth rates were monitored by ultrasound at 8, 12, and 20 weeks gestation. Neonates were weighed, measured (birthlength, chest circumference, head circumference), and examined within 72 h of delivery (116 major and minor anomalies) in standardized fashion by one of two geneticists. Although no significant differences were found between infants compatible and incompatible at the HLA-A or HLA-B locus, significant differences were observed between HLA-DR compatible and incompatible infants for sex ratios (p less than .003) and minor anomaly rates (p less than .05). Although differences in mean birthweights between HLA-DR compatible and incompatible infants were not significant in this sample, HLA-DR compatible infants were on average 200 grams smaller than HLA-DR incompatible infants. We interpret these findings as evidence for selection against histocompatible fetuses throughout gestation, particularly with respect to HLA-DR compatibility. Potential immunologic and genetic mechanisms are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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