• CD57;
  • natural killer cells;
  • pathology;
  • placenta;
  • recurrent spontaneous abortions

PROBLEM: Placental lesions of 71 women with documented recurrent spontaneous abortions of unknown etiology were evaluated using immunohistochemical staining.

METHOD OF STUDY: Placental tissue blocks (less than 12 weeks gestation) from prior pregnancy losses were obtained, recut, and analyzed utilizing monoclonal antibody to identify the trophoblast (cytokeratin 8/18) and natural killer (NK) cells (CD57) at the implantation site. The following features were evaluated: trophoblast invasion pattern; syncytium formation; vasculitis and thromboembolism of decidual vessels: decidual inflammation; decidual necrosis; fibrin deposition at the decidual necrosis site; mononuclear-cell infiltration in villi and intervillous space; perivillous fibrin deposition; trophoblast morphology; and quantitation of CD57 + NK cells within the decidual tissue near the implantation site. Controls consisted of 20 healthy women with no history of recurrent pregnancy losses, who had their pregnancies electively terminated.

RESULTS: Of the women studied, 29.6% demonstrated elevated CD57 + NK cells at the implantation site (P = 0.030), 54.1% had inadequate cytotrophoblast invasion depth (P = 0.000), 44.1% demonstrated inadequate syncytium formation (P = 0.004), and 33.9% presented thromboembolism in decidual vessels (P = 0.025).

CONCLUSION: Some women with recurrrent spontaneous abortions demonstrate abnormal placental lesions at the implantation site. Immunopathologic evaluation of the placental implantation site that terminated in a spontaneous abortion may reveal the immunopathogenesis of previous pregnancy losses.