The proportion of follicular fluid CD16+CD56DIM NK cells is increased in IVF patients with idiopathic infertility.
SourceJournal of Reproductive Immunology, 60, 1, (2003), pp. 71-84
Article / Letter to editor
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Blood Transfusion and Transplantation Immunology
Journal of Reproductive Immunology
SubjectEBP 2: Effective Hospital Care; UMCN 1.4: Immunotherapy, gene therapy and transplantation; UMCN 5.2: Endocrinology and reproduction
One-fifth of all in-vitro fertilization (IVF) patients suffer from idiopathic infertility. A low fertilization rate is one of the most characteristic features of IVF in this group, probably caused by oocyte dysfunction. We speculate that an altered lymphocyte profile in follicular fluid (FF) may affect oocyte function and thus play a role in idiopathic infertility. Therefore, we compared levels of lymphocyte populations present in FF of 11 patients with idiopathic infertility (study group) with 29 patients in the control group, i.e. severe male factor infertility (n=17) or tubal factor infertility (n=12). Triple color flow cytometry was used to discriminate between T cells and NK cell subpopulations. In the idiopathic infertility group, a shift from T to NK cells was observed in FF as compared to the control group, caused mainly by a significant higher level of NK cells--20.3 and 13.6% (P<0.05), respectively. This high level of NK cells was due to a rise of the CD16+CD56dim NK cell subset. In peripheral blood, the NK cell levels showed a similar although not significant trend (P=0.08). As the CD16+CD56dim NK cell subpopulation is known for its cytotoxic properties, this subpopulation may negatively affect folliculogenesis and oocyte maturation, reflected by a diminished fertilization rate in the idiopathic infertility group. An altered lymphocyte profile in FF could therefore influence fertility in these patients.
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