CO-EDITORs-IN-CHIEF

Professor Andrew Horne
 
Andrew Horne, PhD FRCOG FRCP Edin FRCSEd FRSE
Professor of Gynaecology and Reproductive
Sciences,
MRC Centre for Reproductive Health,
University of Edinburgh,
UK
 
Professor Norah Spears
Norah Spears, D Phil
Professor of Reproductive Physiology,
Centre for Integrative Physiology,
University of Edinburgh,
UK
 
Meet the Editorial Board

Endometrial glands are essential for fertility, consisting of ciliated and secretory cells that facilitate a suitable uterine environment for embryo implantation. This study sought to determine whether an endometrial gland-specific transcriptome and splicing profile are altered in women with recurrent pregnancy loss. Our data provide a comprehensive catalogue of cilia and progestagen-associated endometrial protein (PAEP) gene isoforms and relative exon usage in endometrial glands. We report a previously unannotated endometrial gland cilia transcript GALNT11 and its susceptibility to exon skipping. Key endometrial receptivity gene transcripts are also reported to change in endometrial glands of women with recurrent pregnancy loss. The endometrial gland cilia and PAEP targets identified in this study could be used to identify a perturbed endometrium, isolate causes of recurrent pregnancy loss and develop targeted therapies in personalised medicine.

Lay summary

Successful embryo implantation is a trade-off between the lining of the womb which receives an implanting embryo, termed the endometrium, and a good quality embryo. For days 21–24 of the menstrual cycle, the endometrium undergoes changes into a receptive state in which it can receive an implanting embryo. Inappropriate endometrial receptivity is thought to underlie recurrent pregnancy loss. Improving pregnancy success in women with recurrent pregnancy loss requires an increased understanding of the endometrium at the molecular level. Genes contain the instructions for the cell and which genes are turned on or off determine how well it can do its role. We sought to determine a gene expression pattern of human endometrial glands in women with recurrent pregnancy loss (n = 5) vs a control group (n = 5). We identify target genes altered in women with recurrent pregnancy loss. Endometrial gland markers could be used to identify inappropriate endometrial receptivity.

Purpose

Can a comprehensive flow cytometry panel be used to assess immunophenotype profiles in menstrual blood of patients experiencing reproductive failure and age matched controls of proven fertility?

Methods

58 recurrent pregnancy loss and repeated implantation failure patients, along with 15 age matched controls of proven fertility, had menstrual blood samples obtained within the first 24 hours of the onset of menstruation to non-invasively assess the local immunophenotype. Using a comprehensive multi-parameter flow panel the lymphocyte sub-populations were described and compared.

Results

Relative to well established peripheral blood immunophenotyping values, distinct lymphocyte population differences were noted between the subgroups. The ratios of CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells were inverted relative to peripheral blood and uterine NK cells represented by CD56bright were distinctly visualised, emphasising the distinction of menstrual and peripheral blood. Relative to controls there were marked increases in CD3+ve T-cells (p=0.009), CD4:CD8 ratio (p=0.004), CD19 B-cells (p=0.026) and CD56dim NK’s (p=0.002) in the reproductive failure cases.

Conclusions

Flow cytometric evaluation can provide a rapid and objective analysis of lymphocyte subpopulations in many forms of tissue and fluid. The findings show significant variations in cellular composition of immune cells indicating a distinct compartment, with differences between cases and controls. Immunological assessment of the menstrual blood immunophenotype, in clinically appropriate patients, may provide insight into the aetiology of adverse reproductive outcome, without the risks and inconveniences associated with a more invasive endometrial biopsy.

The use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) has recently increased worldwide. The live birth rate per ICSI cycle is low, and over half of infertile couples remain childless. Chromosomal polymorphisms are up to five times more common in couples with infertility compared to the general population. We aimed to investigate the association between chromosomal polymorphisms and reproductive outcomes in couples undergoing ICSI treatment. We analysed 942 ICSI fresh and frozen embryo transfer cycles in 697 women who underwent karyotyping analysis using Giemsa-Trypsin-Leishman banding prior to assisted conception at the Fertility Centre of Lanka Hospitals, Sri Lanka, between 2016 and 2018. The primary outcomes were pregnancy, miscarriage, and live birth rates. We compared outcomes according to the presence or absence of chromosomal polymorphism in females, males and couples. There were 294 pregnancies (31.2%) recorded in the study; 130 suffered a miscarriage (13.8%), 13 were ectopic pregnancies (1.3%) and 151 resulted in a live birth (16.0%). The evidence from univariable and multivariable analyses (adjusted for age, BMI, ovarian reserve and treatment type) did not confidently identify a difference in pregnancy, miscarriage or live birth rates between couples with no chromosomal polymorphisms compared to couples where the female, male or both partners were carriers of a chromosomal polymorphism. Further, we did not identify a clear association between the presence of chromosomal polymorphisms and reproductive outcomes compared to participants without chromosomal polymorphisms. Wide CIs precluded the identification of clinically meaningful associations.

Lay summary

Infertility affects approximately one in eight couples worldwide. The use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where the sperm is directly injected into an egg using a micromanipulator outside the body, has become particularly popular in recent years. However, the success rate remains low. In human cells, the genetic material is arranged in structures called chromosomes. Chromosomal polymorphism is a normal variation where the genetic material is arranged differently to the average individual and is more common in infertile couples compared to the general population. We analysed data from 942 ICSI cycles in 697 couples who underwent karyotyping analysis to assess the changes in chromosomes between 2016 and 2018. The pregnancy rate was 31.2%, with 16.0% of participants experiencing a live birth, while 13.8% of pregnancies resulted in a miscarriage and 1.3% were outside the womb cavity (ectopic). The evidence did not identify a clear association between the chromosomal polymorphism and the outcome of treatment.

 

Read the following articles chosen by the Editors

 

The impact of Covid-19 on infertility services and future directions

Authors: I Robertson, A J Kermack, and Y Cheong
Volume 1: Issue 1, Pages: C3–C7

 

Undernutrition reduces kisspeptin and neurokinin B expression in castrated male sheep

Authors: Christina M Merkley et al.
Volume 1: Issue 1, Pages: 21–33

 

Effects of lifestyle factors on fertility: practical recommendations for modification

Authors: Mathias Abiodun Emokpae and Somieye Imaobong Brown
Volume 2: Issue 1, Pages: R13–R26

 

Pelvic pain correlates with peritoneal macrophage abundance not endometriosis

Authors: Douglas A Gibson et al.
Volume 2: Issue 1, Pages: 47–57

 

One day is better than four days of ejaculatory abstinence for sperm function

Authors: Fatima Kazue Okada, Rhayza Roberta Andretta, and Deborah Montagnini Spaine
Volume 1: Issue 1, Pages: 1–10

 

Factors affecting reproductive traits in male snow leopards (Unciauncia)

Authors: Jason R Herrick et al.
Volume 1: Issue 1, Pages: 35–49

 

Study design flaws and statistical challenges in evaluating fertility treatments

Authors: Jack Wilkinson and Katie Stocking
Volume 2: Issue 2, Pages: C9–C21

 
 
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