Immunotherapy for recurrent spontaneous abortion.

C B Coulam


Recurrent pregnancy loss is a healthcare concern. Safe and effective treatments are necessary. Since women experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss are a heterogeneous population, specific markers are necessary to identify those who will respond to various treatments. The presence of antiphospholipid antibodies identifies women with recurrent pregnancy loss who are most likely to respond to heparin and aspirin treatment. An elevated concentration of NK cells in maternal blood and a loss of karyotypically normal embryos after detection of cardiac activity on ultrasonographic examination identify women who are most likely to respond to IVIg treatment. An obstetric history of recurrent primary abortion with an absence of maternal antipaternal lymphocytotoxic antibodies and anti-phospholipid antibodies predicts women who are most likely to respond to allogeneic leukocyte immunization. However, the treatment effect is low, with a livebirth rate of 60% which represents an enhancement over no treatment in the range of 8-10%. The difference in livebirth rates between women receiving IVIg therapy as compared to placebo was 28%. Women experiencing recurrent spontaneous abortion who have high, as opposed to low levels of leukocyte antibody do not respond to leukocyte immunization therapy. They do, however, respond to treatment with IVIg--the overall success rate of IVIg being 70%. It is important to be able to identify women likely to respond to various forms of immunotherapy. Chromosomal abnormalities are evident in 60% of recurrent aborters. Women experiencing recurrent aneuploidy in their abortus would not be expected to respond to immunotherapy. At the present time, the only way to identify such women is to have the results of chromosome analysis of previous pregnancy losses available. Having access to this information will require a change in current obstetric practice regarding obtaining karyotyping of all pregnancy losses. The cost-effectiveness of chromosome studies from abortuses is apparent when costs of evaluation and treatment are considered.