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Preconception Peripheral Natural Killer Cell Activity as a Predictor of Pregnancy Outcome in Patients with Unexplained Infertility


Address reprint requests to Hidehiko Matsubayashi, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Center for Specialized Clinical Science, Tokai University School of Medicine, Bohseidai, Isehara, Kanagawa, 259-1193, Japan.


Problem:  Preconception high peripheral natural killer (NK) cell activity in women with recurrent spontaneous abortion can predict subsequent miscarriages. We have examined prospectively, for the first time, the pregnancy rate in patients with unexplained infertility by measuring the peripheral NK activity.

Method of study:  We tested the peripheral NK activity of 94 infertile women who despite treatment were unable to conceive for 6 or more months (mean; 2.4 years). Peripheral NK activity was measured by a chromium-51 release cytotoxicity assay. Women were followed for 2 years and assessed.

Results:  In 77 patients who were followed for 2 years, 28 had conceived but 49 did not. The peripheral NK activity of the group that became pregnant (mean ± S.D.; 34.5 ± 13.8%) was significantly lower than that of non-conception group (42.3 ± 13.3%, P = 0.017).

Conclusions:  Our finding suggests that elevated peripheral NK activity in patients with unexplained infertility is a risk factor for attaining pregnancy success.

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