A Subset of Patients With Recurrent Spontaneous Abortion Is Deficient in Transforming Growth Factor β-2-Producing “Suppressor Cells” in Uterine Tissue Near the Placental Attachment Site


Rm 3V39, McMaster University, 1200 Main St. West, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8N 3Z5.


PROBLEM: To determine if patients with unexplained recurrent miscarriage have a deficiency of decidual immunosuppressor cells that produce transforming growth factor β type 2, as has been found in mice with abortion due to rejection and/or trophoblast failure.

METHODS: Decidual biopsy specimens were taken as near to the placental attachment site as possible under ultrasound guidance from first trimester legal termination (control) patients with recurrent miscarriage and non-viable pregnancy, and from patients with sporadic missed abortion. The tissue was tested for TGFβ-2+ suppressor cells by in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, and analysis of supernatants.

RESULTS: TGFβ-2-related suppressor molecules similar but not identical to those identified in pregnant mice were released by decidual lymphoid cells. Fifty percent of 14 recurrent miscarriage patients showed a lack of suppressor cells and 59% were subnormal in comparison to 20 controls and 5 sporadic miscarriage patients, where 80–85% of the patients had detectable suppressor cells.

CONCLUSIONS: Suppressor cell deficiency is compatible with a role for rejection and/or trophoblast failure in some patients with recurrent miscarriage. Presence of suppressor cells in most patients with missed abortion (4/5) is compatible with an alternative cause of fetal death, similar to findings reported in genetic fetal death mice.