PROBLEM: To determine whether the increased incidence of antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs) in women undergoing assisted reproduction might be secondary to superovulation with gonadotropins, predisposing women to an abnormal immune response and thus inducing APAs.
METHOD OF STUDY: Women undergoing assisted reproduction with gonadotropins for the first time were selected and tested before the initiation of the stimulation cycle, during the cycle, and at the end of the cycle (group 1). Women who had undergone gonadotropin stimulation at least 60 days earlier (group 2) and normal, nonpregnant, fertile women (group 3) also were evaluated. Serum samples were assayed by the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay method.
RESULTS: Ten (20%) of 50 women in group 1 were positive for APAs. The 10 women who were positive for APAs remained positive throughout the treatment cycle. Positive antibodies were identified in 12 (24%) of 50 women in group 2, not significantly different from group 1 (P = 0.81). Antibodies were present in 2 of 50 normal fertile control subjects, significantly less frequently than in group 1 (P < 0.03) and in group 2 (P < 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that gonadotropin administration and/or the ovarian response to stimulation does not predispose women to the induction of APAs. Moreover, the incidence of APAs in this population, which is higher than that found in normal fertile women, cannot be explained by cycle-induced events.