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ORIGINAL ARTICLE: How Valuable is Measurement of Peripheral Blood Natural Killer Cells at the Time of Abortion?


Marighoula Varla-Leftherioti,
Immunobiology Department
‘‘Helena Venizelou’’ Maternity Hospital,
2 Helen‘s Venizelou Sq 11521, Athens, Greece. E-mail:


Problem  Increased peripheral blood natural killer (NK) cells are associated to immune-mediated abortion, but their diagnostic value when measured at the time of miscarriage is unknown.

Method of study  In women with therapeutic (A = 79) or elective (C = 34) pregnancy termination, the NK-cell percentage was measured before and 5 days after curettage. Additionally, immune-mediated lesions (scored 0–3) and CD56+ and CD16+ decidual ΝΚs (scored 1–3) were detected on the abortion material.

Results  Aborters differed from controls in histological scores (= 0.000) and in NK percentage (>12%) only in the measurement 5 days after the operation (= 0.038). In comparison to histological lesions, NK measurement was found to have sensitivity 70%, specificity 73.68%, positive prognostic value 89.39% and negative prognostic value 43.75%.

Conclusion  An Increased NK-cell percentage 5 days after the pregnancy termination could be a marker of immune aetiology of miscarriage, as the probability of an aborter with NK >12% to have an immune-mediated abortion is almost 90%.