Incidence of Autoimmune Antibodies in Failed Embryo Transfer Cycles


The Diamond Institute, 1387 Clinton Avenue, Irvington, New Jersey 07111.


PROBLEM: The presence of antiphospholipid antibodies lupus anticoagulant (LAC), anticardiolipin antibody (ACA) as well as antinuclear antibody (ANA) has been associated with early spontaneous pregnancy loss and adverse pregnancy outcome. The purpose of this study was to investigate the possible role of autoimmune antibodies (LAC, ACA, and ANA) as a cause of implantation failure following embryo transfer (ET) after in vitro fertilization (IVF).

METHOD: Three groups were studied: Group I, 56 patients who failed to conceive following ET; group II, 14 patients who have conceived following IVF-ET and delivered or are carrying an uncomplicated ongoing pregnancy; and group III, 69 patients who were new candidates for IVF-ET.

RESULTS: Eighteen out of 56 (32.1%) of patients who failed to conceive following previous IVF-ET cycle (group I) tested positive for one or more of the autoimmune antibodies. None of the 14 patients of group II tested positive for autoimmune antibodies (P<.02). Seven out of the 69 patients (10%) of group III were found positive to one or more of the autoimmune factor. This rate is significantly lower than the rate of positive autoimmune antibodies detected in group I (P<.003). Fifteen patients of the 18 who tested positive for autoimmune antibodies and who had previously failed to conceive following ET underwent a subsequent IVF-ET cycle while being treated with prednisone and aspirin. Seven out of the 15 (46.6%) conceived and were able to sustain a clinical ongoing pregnancy.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients receiving ET are carrying viable embryos within the intrauterine environment. Therefore, in this unique group of patients, failure to demonstrate a positive pregnancy test represents an implantation failure or a very early postimplantation loss. The results of this study suggest that periimplantation events may be affected by autoimmune antibodies. Very early miscarriage or implantation failure may be related to the same pathophysiological mechanism that causes recurrent miscarriages and is diagnosed incorrectly as infertility.