Opinions on Treatment of Women With Habitual Abortion Based on Investigations for Blocking Antibody and Autoantibodies


Address reprint requests to Margareta Unander, M.D., Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sahlgren Hospital, S-413 45 Göteborg, Sweden.


ABSTRACT: Three hundred and thirty-seven women with habitual abortion of unknown etiology were studied for cellular reactivity and blocking antibody in one-way mixed lymphocyte culture. Their sera were investigated for anti-cardiolipin antibodies, antinuclear antibodies, and antibodies against DNA, and the activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT) and complement levels of their plasma were determined. Increased anti-cardiolipin antibody levels were demonstrated in 77 (22%) of the 337 women, all of whom were considered healthy and had no signs of autoimmune disease. Most patients with high anti-cardiolipin antibody levels displayed lowered values of complement factor C4. According to our experiences, the mere occurence of anti-cardiolipin antibody in women with habitual abortion is no absolute cause for treatment with prednisolone, not even in cases with greatly elevated anti-cardiolipin values. Therapy with prednisolone and acethylsalicylic acid (ASA) during pregnancy should be given to those women who have high levels of anti-cardiolipin antibodies concomitant with high APTT values, low values of complement C4, and strong blocking antibody. Anti-cardiolipin antibody has been investigated during pregnancy in 136 normal pregnant women, 11 of whom (8%) were positive at any sampling occasion, but only one of whom (1%) had high levels. Evidently the development of anti-cardiolipin antibody is no normal feature of pregnancy among Swedish women and thus the high frequency found among healthy Swedish women with habitual abortion remains unexplained. We have introduced an immunization program of leukocyte transfusions in habitual abortion. The development of previously absent blocking antibody seems to be a valuable prognostic sign of possible success for immunization therapy against habitual abortion.