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Gene linked to ectopic pregnancy risk

Wednesday February 24th 2021

Scientists have identified a gene which may be linked to the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

Dr Enrica Bianchi of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK, and colleagues conducted an investigation involving laboratory mice and point to a gene called Adgrd1.

They explain in yesterday's (23 February) Nature Communications that: "Ectopic pregnancies occur when a fertilised egg implants and develops outside of the uterus, and in almost all cases, this occurs in the Fallopian tube. The control of embryo movement is therefore thought to have an important role in this condition, but the underlying genetic causes and mechanisms are poorly characterised."

They looked at a gene called Adhesion G-protein coupled receptor D1 (Adgrd1) in the fallopian tubes. Using a large genetic database, they found a clear link between this gene and infertility in mice.

Mice which lack the gene are infertile because there is an increased flow of oviductal fluid, preventing the egg from progressing to the uterus.

The team report: "Our results demonstrate an essential role for Adgrd1 in embryo transport and provide a plausible explanation for oviductal tubal locking and how it is regulated."

Dr Bianchi commented: “The flow of oviductal fluid in mammals is somewhat counterintuitive, in that it flows in the opposite direction to the egg’s direction of travel. What we’ve discovered in this study is that the strength of this flow is normally downregulated by the Adgrd1 gene.

"But when Adgrd1 is suppressed, the flow is not reduced and the egg cannot seem to move past the ampullary-isthmic junction.”

They hope this discovery "opens new avenues for the treatment of ectopic pregnancy”.

Bianchi, E. et al. Control of oviductal fluid flow by the G-protein coupled receptor Adgrd1 is essential for murine embryo transit. Nature Communications 23 February 2021; doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-21512-w

[abstract]

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

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