Steroid May Prevent Recurrent Miscarriages
Researchers Say Prednisolone Reduces Amount of Cells Linked to Miscarriages
June 21, 2005 -- A commonly used steroid medication may help women who
suffer from frequent miscarriages.
A small new study shows that the steroid prednisolone reduces the amount of
a type of cell linked to recurrent miscarriages. Researchers say that if
further studies confirm these results, the findings may open up new avenues for
treating and possibly preventing recurrent miscarriages.
"There are many unanswered questions at present, and we hope that
randomized, controlled trials will shed more light on the mechanisms involved
and whether the use of prednisolone may, in fact, represent a new and effective
treatment for recurrent miscarriages," researcher Siobhan Quenby, senior
lecturer and honorary consultant in the department of developmental and
reproductive medicine at the University of Liverpool, says in a news
Quenby says her study is preliminary and she does not want women to be given
false or premature hopes. "This is very exciting data, but the research is
at a preliminary stage, so I cannot recommend it to patients without a proper
trial. It is important that, in the excitement of new hope for these poor women
for whom there is no treatment currently available, neither myself nor the
media overexaggerate the results," Quenby says in the news release.
The study was presented this week at the annual conference of the European
Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Recurrent miscarriages, defined as three or more miscarriages, affect about
two in every 100 women of reproductive age. There are no effective treatments
available for the condition.
Prednisolone is a steroid that is commonly used to reduce inflammation
caused by a variety of conditions, including asthma, skin conditions, and
Prednisolone May Prevent Miscarriages
Women with recurrent miscarriages have elevated levels of cells called
uterine natural killer (uNK) cells. These infection-fighting white cells are
found in high numbers in the uterus and the lining of the uterus that develops
Recent studies have also shown that these uNK cells have steroid receptors
on their surface. In the study, researchers looked at whether giving women with
recurrent miscarriages the steroid prednisolone could reduce the elevated uNK
levels in their endometrium (uterine lining).
Researchers took endometrial samples from 110 women who had had an average
of six miscarriages and tested them for uNK cells. Women with elevated uNK
levels were then given the option to take 20 milligrams of prednisolone for 21
days from the start of their menstrual cycle.
The study showed that uNK levels dropped from an average of 14% before
treatment to 9% in the 29 women with elevated uNK cells who took
"Although nine per cent is still higher than the normal average of five
per cent, these women only took prednisolone for three weeks. In practice, they
would have to take the steroid for longer before conception occurred, probably
for about three months," says Quenby.