Recurrent fetal loss occurs in approximately 1% of women. Autoimmune causes have been suggested as a factor in some of these cases. High rates of intrauterine fetal growth retardation and increased incidence of prematurity is associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and the antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). We found in previous studies that sera from SLE/APS patients when used as a culture medium for rat embryos were found to reduce embryonic growth and development, induce a high rate of embryonic anomalies and death and damage the yolk sac morphologically and functionally. In order to investigate the direct effect of IgG purified from women with SLE/APS on the growth and viability of embryos, we cultured 11.5-day-old rat embryos in their yolk sacs in the presence of IgG purified from SLE/APS patients with recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). The IgG affected directly the embryo and yolk sac, reducing their growth. The purified IgG positive for anticardiolipin/anti-DNA antibodies reduced yolk sac and embryonic growth more than sera negative for these antibodies but positive for antiphosphatydilserine and for antilaminin. Monoclonal antiphosphatydilserine reduced yolk sac growth but the embryos remained intact. Following the observed damage to the yolk sac we cultured human placental explants at 5.5-8 weeks of pregnancy in sera from SLE/APS patients for 96 hours and found that these sera reduced placental trophoblastic cell growth, reduced their proliferation rate and increased their rate of apoptosis. Successful treatment of the women resulted in a correction of the damage induced in the cultured rat embryos and in the cultured placental explants.
- Placental explants
- Pregnancy loss