Immune Marker May Offer Miscarriage Clue
Low Levels During Pregnancy May Reveal Miscarriage Risk
Jan. 8, 2004 -- Low levels of a protein involved in the immune
system during early pregnancy may serve as an indicator of miscarriage
A new study shows that women who miscarried had levels of the
protein that were only one-third of the levels found among similar women who
had successful pregnancies.
Researchers say as many as 10-15% of pregnancies end in
miscarriage. Many of these are the result of genetic abnormalities in the
fetus, but a large proportion are unexplained and may be related to the
maternal immune system rejecting the fetus.
Potential Marker for Miscarriage Risk
In the study, which appears in the Jan. 10 issue of The
Lancet, researchers measured the levels of an immune protein known as MIC 1
in women at six to 13 weeks gestation.
Researchers found that the average level of the protein in 100
women who later miscarried were one-third of the average levels found in 200
similarly matched women who went on to have successful pregnancies.
The study also showed that the levels were just as low three
weeks before miscarriage as they were on the day the miscarriage was
Researchers say the fact that levels were unusually low weeks
before miscarriage occurred suggests that the protein may help predict which
women are at risk for miscarriage and allow doctors to develop interventions to
prevent pregnancy loss.