Measurement of peripheral natural killer cells at the time of spontaneous abortions



Increased peripheral NK cells in aborting women are considered as a predictor of immunological miscarriages. Here, we investigated the diagnostic value of the NK count at the time of abortion.

Peripheral NK cells were counted by flow cytometry in 44 women undergoing therapeutic termination of first trimester missed pregnancy (A = 24) or elective abortion (B = 20). Histology of the extracted material was performed and immunological lesions (villitis, intervillositis, vascular thrombosis, increased fibrinoid necrosis) were recorded. Twenty first trimester pregnant women (C1) and 20 nonpregnant women (C2) served as controls. In 20 women of groups A and B (A1 = 10, B2 = 10) count was repeated after 5 days.

At abortion time, the NK percentage and number did not differ between groups A and B (18.18%, 360 versus 15.61%, 374), but there was a statistically significant difference between A and C1 (18.18% versus 13.6%, P < 0.03). When histology negative (11) and positive (8) cases were excluded from groups A and B, respectively, NKs were slightly higher in group A (18.18–19.76%) and significantly lower in B (15.61–13.07%, P < 0.05). At the time of second count, aborters' NKs decreased (A1 = 16.64 versus 13.6 and 10.6 in groups C1 and C2 –P = 0.01, respectively). In group B, NK percentage was equal to that of nonpregnant women (10.94 versus 10.6).

At the time of abortions, NKs increase only in cases of immune-mediated miscarriages. Their – in time – count may contribute to the diagnosis of immmunological abortions.