PROBLEM: It remains unclear whether maternal immunization with paternal lymphocytes prior to conception improves the reproductive outcome in women with recurrent abortion in whom all secondary causes have been excluded.
METHOD: A double-blind placebo controlled trial was instituted in women with unexplained recurrent spontaneous abortion, comparing immunization with 400 million paternal to 400 million maternal (autologous) lymphocytes. The groups were compared in a paired sequential trials chart, by logistic regression, and, in addition, a meta-analysis of this and other published trials was carried out.
RESULTS: The live birth rate among pregnancies in paired couples with paternal lymphocyte immunization was 68% compared to 47% in the women who received their own cells. The results bordered on, but did not achieve, statistical significance. The women in each group were thoroughly investigated to exclude known causes of recurrent pregnancy loss and appeared to have been well matched in all variables. Women with lymphocytotoxic antibodies against paternal lymphocytes were excluded. Unlike our previous study there was not association between the time to conception and the chance of a successful outcome. Indeed, the time to conception was relatively short, 12 wk in all groups. The meta-analysis supported an overall modest favorable experience with paternal cells.
CONCLUSION: The study is consistent with a general trend favoring paternal over maternal lymphocyte immunization but reinforces the need for larger multicenter controlled trials as well as more detailed biological study in humans to understand the nature of the maternal-fetal interface and its breakdown.