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Am J Reprod Immunol. 1998 Jul;40(1):32-6.

Cell-mediated immunity to human and Escherichia coli 60-kDa heat shock protein in women: association with a history of spontaneous abortion and endometriosis.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York 10021, USA.



Heat shock proteins are expressed during early pregnancy and in peritoneal fluids from women with endometriosis. The relationship between a cell-mediated immune response to human 60-kDa heat shock protein (hsp60), spontaneous abortion, and endometriosis was examined.


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 110 female partners of infertile couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and 41 fertile control subjects were incubated with human hsp60 or Escherichia coli hsp60. PBMC proliferation was measured by [3H]thymidine incorporation, and a stimulation index was calculated.


Lymphocytes from 21.8% of the infertile women, as opposed to 7.3% of the fertile women, proliferated in response to human hsp60 (P = 0.05). In contrast, proliferation in response to the E. coli hsp60 was equivalent in both groups. Within the infertile group, the response to human hsp60 was 40.7% among women with a history of spontaneous abortion and only 12% in those with no history of spontaneous abortion (P = 0.003). There was no association between immunity to E. coli hsp60 and spontaneous abortion or between immunity to human hsp60 and therapeutic abortion or the cause of infertility. Immunity to the E. coli hsp60 was associated with endometriosis.


A cell-mediated autoimmune response to human hsp60 is associated with a history of spontaneous abortion, whereas immunity to E. coli hsp60 was most prevalent in women with endometriosis.

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