Recurrent miscarriages: Could prednisolone reduce the occurrence of this distressing condition?

Copenhagen, Denmark: Researchers investigating recurrent miscarriages have made the intriguing discovery that the steroid prednisolone reduces the numbers of a type of cell that is known to play a role before and during early pregnancy. Their findings open up possible new avenues for treating a condition for which no satisfactory treatment currently exists.

The research is so important that the lead author, Dr Siobhan Quenby, told the 21st annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology: "A randomised controlled trial of prednisolone for the prevention of miscarriage is urgently needed and I am in the process of setting one up."

However, Dr Quenby, who is a senior lecturer and honorary consultant in the Department of Developmental and Reproductive Medicine at the University of Liverpool, UK, warned that her research was still at an early stage and that she did not want women to be given false or premature hopes.

"This is very exciting data, but the research is at a preliminary stage, so I cannot recommend it to patients without a proper trial. It is important that, in the excitement of new hope for these poor women for whom there is no treatment currently available, neither myself nor the media over-exaggerate the results."

Recurrent miscarriages (i.e. three or more losses) affect two in every 100 women of reproductive age. "It is a distressing condition that presents a challenge for clinicians and immunologists. Recent research has pointed to a significant role for uterine natural killer (uNK) cells in pregnancy implantation," said Dr Quenby.

uNK cells are the most numerous white blood cells found in the uterus and in the special lining of the uterus that occurs during pregnancy (the decidua). They are found close to the outermost cells of the developing early embryo that go on to develop into the placenta. Previous research has shown that there are increased numbers of uNK cells in women who

Contact: Mary Rice
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology

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