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Stem cell clue to recurrent miscarriages

Thursday March 17th, 2016

Stem cell shortages may help explain why some women suffer recurrent miscarriages, according to British researchers.

Professor Jan Brosens and colleagues at Warwick University, UK, carried out tests on tissue samples taken from the endometrium of 183 women who agreed to donation during their treatment at the Implantation Research Clinic, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.

These experiments showed that a lack of stem cells "is the likely cause of accelerated ageing of the lining of the womb which results in the failure of some pregnancies."

The researchers say their findings point to a potential treatment for recurrent miscarriage.

Details of the study are published in Stem Cells.

Professor Brosens comments: "We have discovered that the lining of the womb in the recurrent miscarriage patients we studied is already defective before pregnancy.

"I can envisage that we will be able to correct these defects before the patient tries to achieve another pregnancy. In fact, this may be the only way to really prevent miscarriages in these cases.

"After an embryo has implanted, the lining of the uterus develops into a specialised structure called the decidua, and this process can be replicated when cells from the uterus are cultured in the lab.

"Cultured cells from women who had had three or more consecutive miscarriages showed that ageing cells in the lining of the womb don't have the ability to prepare adequately for pregnancy."

The team will now investigate possible treatments for recurrent miscarriage, based on strategies to increase the function of stem cells in the womb lining.

Brosens, J. J. et al. Loss of Endometrial Plasticity in Recurrent Pregnancy Loss. Stem Cells 9 March 2016 doi: 10.1002/stem.2222 [abstract]

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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