The Immunological screening is a relative recent and important development in the field of assisted conception. It requires the woman to undergo a profile of blood tests that explores the current state of the immune system and tendencies, related to the successful implantation.
At Life Clinic the reproductive immunological testing is focused is 3 areas:
- The detection of local inflammation signs in the body
- the assessment of the T and B WHITE CELL condition and activity and the CYTOKINES ratio (TH1 TH2 HELPER Cells)
- the assessment of the response to various medications, so the best option will be used
For a successful implantation of an embryo, and a subsequent normal pregnancy, the immune system must be in optimal condition, so it will react with a “special” way towards the “new invader”. This reaction is observed in every pregnancy, and we believe that is a vital part of the normal embryo implantation. The characteristic of this immunological reaction is that, a few hours after the implantation, the immune system will ease off, it will become underactive, thus optimising embryo development.
It is currently widely accepted that some women may overreact towards the embryos and this may result in unsuccessful implantation or early miscarriage or, more rarely, in developmental problems during pregnancy.
The blood tests required for the investigation are a combination of simple and more specific tests, aiming at understanding particular immune system tendencies and its current overall condition.
Blood samples are sent by courier and on the same day, to the USA (Chicago University), for specialised testing. The results take approximately 2 weeks, at which point a follow up consultation is scheduled, the findings will be explained, and a plan for the immunological support required will be made, specifically in line with these results, so as to maximise the chances of a successful pregnancy.
The link between Immunological imbalances and infertility, pregnancy and miscarriage, is still relatively new and research is on-going. As a result, for a lot of doctors this treatment is controversial and schools of thought between assisted conception specialists differ. With time, more and more doctors and clinics started looking seriously into this field. Nowadays the immunological approach to fertility is becoming increasingly widespread and commonly accepted and pursued by most leading clinics in this area.
For a more in-depth review of immune screening and its implications in fertility medicine, please refer to the following websites:
The Alan E. Beer Center for Reproductive Immunology & Genetics
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Immune treatment ‘cuts IVF failures’
BBC, 07 January 2002
An immune clock of human pregnancy
The use of etanercept and other tumor necrosis factor-alpha blockers in infertility: it’s time to get serious.
Pregnancy-induced Adaptations of the Central Circadian Clock and Maternal Glucocorticoids
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Immune therapies for women with history of failed implantation undergoing IVF treatment
The Immune System Is a Natural Target for Estrogen Action: Opposing Effects of Estrogen in Two Prototypical Autoimmune Diseases
Mapping the Feto-maternal Peripheral Immune System at Term Pregnancy
Immunological Testing and Treatment in Reproduction: Frequency Assessment of Practice Patterns at Assisted Reproduction Clinics in the USA and Australia
The Immune System in Menopause: Pros and Cons of Hormone Therapy
Sex Hormones and the Immune Response in Humans
Sex Hormones and Immune Dimorphism
Pregnancy and immunological disorders
Natural Treatments for Autoimmune Infertility Concerns
Association between thyroid autoantibodies and miscarriage and preterm birth: meta-analysis of evidence
Broken bones? Blame it on autoimmune disease. TNF alpha the culprit
Biologics during pregnancy and breast-feeding
The use of low-dose naltrexone (LDN) as a novel anti-inflammatory treatment for chronic pain
What factors are important for successful embryo transfer after in-vitro fertilization?
Embryo transfer—can we learn anything new from the observation of junctional zone contractions?
Optimizing the embryo transfer technique