PROBLEM: We investigated the hypothesis that elevated peripheral blood natural killer cells (NK) are decreased by immunoglobulin G infusion (IVIg) therapy in women with recurrent spontaneous abortions (RSA) and elevated NK cells.
METHODS: Seventy-three women with RSA and elevated NK cells received IVIg therapy (400 mg/Kg/day for 3 days ever 4 wks) and anticoagulation treatment. Peripheral blood immunophenotype assay by flow cytometry was done prospectively prior to and 7 days after first IVIg therapy, every 2 wks until 20 wks gestation and then monthly. Controls were 95 women with RSA and normal NK cells who received anticoagulation treatment.
RESULTS: (1) 86.3% of women with elevated NK cells who received the IVIg and anticoagulation therapy had a successful pregnancy outcome; (2) Peripheral blood CD56+ NK cells and CD56+/16+ NK cells were significantly suppressed 7 days post IVIg infusion (P < 0.0005); (3) Pre-IVIg infusion levels of other lymphocyte subsets were not different as compared with those of 7 days post-IVIg therapy; (4) Women who delivered a liveborn infant with IVIg therapy demonstrated downregulation of peripheral blood NK cells (CD56+, CD56+/16+) during early pregnancy when compared to women who miscarried the index pregnancy (P < 0.05); (5) Women with normal NK cells who miscarried while on anticoagulation therapy demonstrated significantly elevated CD56+ NK cells during early pregnancy as compared with that of women who delivered a liveborn infant (P < 0.05); (6) CD19+ B cells were significantly downregulated during pregnancy in women with anticoagulation and IVIg therapy when compared to women with anticoagulation therapy (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Downregulation of NK cells in women with RSA is associated with a favorable pregnancy outcome. Peripheral blood NK cells (CD56+, CD56+/16+) are effectively suppressed after IVIg therapy. Women with RSA and high NK cells benefit from IVIg therapy and experience suppression of CD56+ and CD56+/16+ NK cells.