Increased Dickkopf-1 expression in patients with unexplained recurrent spontaneous miscarriage


Correspondence: T. Duan, Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, No.536 Changle Road, Shanghai 200040, China.



Wnt pathways play an important role in pre-implantation embryo development, blastocyst implantation, and post-implantation uterine decidualisation. However, little is known about the potential role that Wnt signaling plays in patients with unexplained recurrent spontaneous miscarriage (URSM), and no single biomarker with a high predictive value of maternally caused URSM has been identified. We aim to study the molecular mechanisms by which the Wnt pathway controls the progression of early pregnancy by investigating the expression of Dickkopf-1 (DKK1), one of the Wnt agonists, in URSM patients. Plasma and fresh decidual tissues samples were collected from 59 subjects (29 patients with URSM and 30 patients with normal, early pregnancy). Time-resolved immunofluorometric assay system and quantitative real-time RT-PCR were used to determine the serum levels of DKK1 and DKK1 mRNA in the deciduas, respectively. Western blot and immunohistochemistry were used to measure DKK1 protein levels in the deciduas. Serum DKK1 levels were significantly higher in URSM patients compared to the control group (P < 0·001); the expression of DKK1 mRNA and protein in URSM patients were higher relative to healthy controls (P = 0·013). Glandular epithelium from decidual tissues demonstrated cytoplasmic signals for DKK1 in URSM patients, and DKK1 did not stain in healthy controls. Furthermore, serum DKK1 levels significantly correlated with those in the decidual tissues. Our study suggests that DKK1 may be a valuable biomarker of URSM; it can be reliably and conveniently detected in serum, thus obviating the need for decidual tissue analysis.