How do Natural Killer Cells Affect Fertility?

What are ‘natural killer cells’?

The human body has its own natural defence system against attacks from illness and disease. When foreign bodies are identified, these natural killer (NK) cells rush in to provide immunity. It is suspected that in some cases of infertility or recurrent pregnancy loss and early miscarriage Natural Killer Cells attack new pregnancy, considering it a foreign body.

What kinds of natural killer cells are there?

There are two kinds of Natural Killer cells. Natural killer cells are immune cells present in the blood (a type of lymphocyte). There are also immune cells present in the lining of the womb which are similar to those in the blood. These are called ‘uterine NK cells’.

There is some relationship between blood and uterine Natural Killer Cells and this is an active area of research. Unfortunately so far the exact nature of relationship between the two groups of Natural Killer Cells is unclear.

Why do these cells attack new life?

While not 100% proven, it is suspected that the main reason why natural killer cells affect fertility and pregnancy is because they identify the developing cells/embryo as foreign for the reason that they contain the genetic material from the father.

How do I know if killer cells are causing my pregnancy problems?

While a blood test will identify and measure NK cells in the blood. In order to examine uterine NK cells it is necessary to undergo a procedure called a Hysteroscopy and Curette. Sample of uterine lining is then sent to be examined for the number and type of NK cells.

This area of reproductive medicine is still developing. Research shows mice lacking in uterine NK cells present both abnormal placenta growth and smaller young. It is clear that NK cells play an important role in early pregnancy and NK cells abnormalities may cause problems falling and staying pregnant for some patients.

Is there a treatment for infertility caused by Natural Killer?

There are some possibilities available which target suppression of NK cells. However, as with all treatments they carry some element of risk/side effects.

It is important that you seek advice from qualified and respected infertility experts like Dr Alex Polyakov Melbourne IVF, you can learn and discuss all your options so you to make an informed choice.

Speak to the fertility experts now and put your mind at ease. Contact us now.