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15 November 2023
Understanding pregnancy problems using immunology solutions
Miscarriages are heartbreaking experiences, and their emotional toll can be more profound when they occur after what it seems like an effortless pregnancy. After a miscarriage, questions are raised, and answers are sought.
Many times, immunology is part of a solution. We would like to invite you to join us in exploring the amazing world of immunology, guided by our Fertility Consultant, Dr George Ndukwe. With over 38 years of IVF experience and expertise in Reproductive Immunology, Dr Ndukwe will share insights and solutions for your fertility journey.
Could Natural Killer Cells Be the Reason for Miscarriages? How Immunology can offer solutions
In this blog, we delve into the enigmatic world of NK cells and their connection to recurrent miscarriages, a problem that often goes unnoticed. We'll explore the challenges that arise when these immune cells become overactive during pregnancy and discover the promising solutions that are emerging to ensure a successful and healthy pregnancy.
“Natural Killer Cells have been given a terrible name. They are not running around with machine guns, killing everything they see,” says Dr George. “They are not the problem, and I will explain in this blog what they do.”
What are Natural Killer Cells?
Natural Killer (NK) cells are white blood cells that play an essential role in the body's immune defence system. Uterine NK cells are found in the lining of the uterus, and their primary function is to promote the growth of blood vessels in the uterine lining to support placenta developing during pregnancy. Dr Ndukwe says that, in some cases, elevated levels of uterine NK cells may lead to miscarriages and failed embryo implantation.
When NK cells become a problem?
Dr Ndukwe highlights the fact that, sometimes, the uterine NK cells may become a problem during pregnancy, when the delicate balance between the immune system's protective functions and its acceptance of the developing foetus is disrupted. “If their levels are too high, this can lead to pregnancy complications, including miscarriages.
In the case of elevated NK cells, Dr Ndukwe recommends immunology solutions and these are the steps to follow:
Diagnosis and management. Comprehensive immunological tests can accurately identify the presence of overactive NK cells in the uterine lining.
Treatment and medication. When the NK cells are found to be overactive, clinics can personalise treatments that may include immunosuppressive therapies and medications to create a more favourable uterine environment for implantation and a successful pregnancy.
Intralipidshave been used to modulate immune responses by shifting the balance of immune cells towards a more favourable environment for the embryo's implantation and development.
Nicola Manashe and Alex Reid had a long and challenging fertility story. After 5 miscarriages and 8 years of infertility, Alex and Nicola started their journey with Harley Street Fertility Clinic, confessing they were at their last hope. NK Cells, intralipids were part of their treatment that led to the safe arrival of their daughter Anastasia, and twin boys Phoenix and Hunter. “Forever grateful to Dr Venkat and Harley Street Fertility Clinic” is their message.
In the next blog Dr Ndukwe will explore the role of cytokines in pregnancy.