Immunology Testing

At Harley Street Fertility Clinic we offer a comprehensive suite of tests to check various aspects of your immune system and related clotting factors, pertinent to fertility. There is much debate about the role of the immune system in promoting or preventing a healthy pregnancy. Research has shown that an “overactive” immune system may negatively affect pregnancy outcomes.

Who may benefit?

As with most things, one size does not fit all: we believe immune testing, and treatment, may not be appropriate for all patients. However, in those with recurrent miscarriage, implantation failure or unexplained treatment failure, where no other cause is obvious, immune testing, and treatment, may help increase the chance of an embryo implanting successfully.

Natural Killer (NK) cell assay panel

This test is a measure of the killing power of the NK cells in your blood. NK cells are present in everyone and their purpose is to fight infection. It is believed that elevated levels of NK cells are associated with failed embryo implantation and miscarriage.
Additionally, we measure how much reduction in NK killing power is observed in the laboratory after adding a solution of medication (Intralipids) to a sample of NK cells from your blood.
The second part of the test measures the numbers of various types of white cells in your blood as percentage of the whole. We look at these specific types of cells because elevated concentrations of these cells have been shown to be associated with various fertility problems. For example:

  • CD56+ Natural Killer cells
  • CD19+5+ B cells associated with auto-immune antibody production

TH1:TH2 intracellular cytokine ratios

Cytokines are chemical messengers in the blood. High levels of the TH1 pro-inflammatory cytokine, TNF-alpha, in particular, have been shown to be associated with reduced egg quality, implantation failure and miscarriage. This test measures the ratio of TNF-alpha in your blood compared to the anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL10. We also measure the ratio of Interferon-gamma compared to IL10.

Inherited thrombophilia and autoimmune factors (Thrombotic Risk profile with auto-antibodies)

These are genetic conditions, some of which are very common. Thrombophilia (‘sticky blood conditions’) can cause problems for maintaining an adequate blood supply to the uterine lining and to the growing placenta leading to increased rates of implantation failure and miscarriage. Undiagnosed autoimmune disease may also be associated with increased risk of pregnancy failure, potentially due to elevated TNF-alpha ratios. Our screening panel includes tests for Factor II prothrombin gene mutation, Factor V Leiden gene mutation, MTHFR gene mutation, antinuclear Antibodies, Mitochondrial antibodies, Anticardiolipin antibodies, Smooth muscle antibodies and Ovarian antibodies.

Further reading

Immune testing is an adjunct service and is not recommended for all patients. Please speak to your consultant about whether it might be beneficial for you.

Please refer to the regulator’s web page regarding treatment “add-ons” for further information: HFEA

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