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Am J Reprod Immunol. 1996 Apr;35(4):363-9.

Elevated peripheral blood natural killer cells are effectively downregulated by immunoglobulin G infusion in women with recurrent spontaneous abortions.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Finch University of Health Sciences, Chicago Medical School, IL 60060, USA.



We investigated the hypothesis that elevated peripheral blood natural killer cells (NK) are decreased by immunoglobulin G infusion (IVIg) therapy in women with recurrent spontaneous abortions (RSA) and elevated NK cells.


Seventy-three women with RSA and elevated NK cells received IVIg therapy (400 mg/Kg/day for 3 days ever 4 wks) and anticoagulation treatment. Peripheral blood immunophenotype assay by flow cytometry was done prospectively prior to and 7 days after first IVIg therapy, every 2 wks until 20 wks gestation and then monthly. Controls were 95 women with RSA and normal NK cells who received anticoagulation treatment.


(1) 86.3% of women with elevated NK cells who received the IVIg and anticoagulation therapy had a successful pregnancy outcome; (2) Peripheral blood CD56+ NK cells and CD56+/16+ NK cells were significantly suppressed 7 days post IVIg infusion (P < 0.0005); (3) Pre-IVIg infusion levels of other lymphocyte subsets were not different as compared with those of 7 days post-IVIg therapy; (4) Women who delivered a liveborn infant with IVIg therapy demonstrated downregulation of peripheral blood NK cells (CD56+, CD56+/16+) during early pregnancy when compared to women who miscarried the index pregnancy (P < 0.05); (5) Women with normal NK cells who miscarried while on anticoagulation therapy demonstrated significantly elevated CD56+ NK cells during early pregnancy as compared with that of women who delivered a liveborn infant (P < 0.05); (6) CD19+ B cells were significantly downregulated during pregnancy in women with anticoagulation and IVIg therapy when compared to women with anticoagulation therapy (P < 0.05).


Downregulation of NK cells in women with RSA is associated with a favorable pregnancy outcome. Peripheral blood NK cells (CD56+, CD56+/16+) are effectively suppressed after IVIg therapy. Women with RSA and high NK cells benefit from IVIg therapy and experience suppression of CD56+ and CD56+/16+ NK cells.

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