Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Immune cells essential to establishing pregnancy:

New research could lead to insights into how to treat infertility in women.
By Motherpedia
Date: July 11 2013
Editor Rating:

New research from the University of Adelaide shows for the first time that immune cells known as ‘macrophages’ are critical to fertility by creating a healthy hormone environment in the uterus.

Laboratory studies led by researchers in the University's Robinson Institute have shown that macrophages play an essential role in production of the hormone progesterone, which is crucial for embryo implantation and the initiation of pregnancy.

"Previous research has demonstrated that macrophages are prevalent in reproductive tissues, but this is the first time that their absolute necessity for pregnancy has been demonstrated," says the leader of the project team, Professor Sarah Robertson.

"Macrophages organise the development of blood vessel networks in the ovary required for production of progesterone, which is the major hormone for initiating pregnancy."

The researchers have found that insufficient numbers of macrophages leads to reduced production of progesterone, which results in embryos implanting poorly or not at all, and can manifest later as a miscarriage. Between 15% and 20% of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage (prior to 20 weeks’ gestation) and many miscarriages are thought to go unrecorded.

"This is the first time that we have understood how pivotal macrophages are for conception and establishing pregnancy.

"Environmental factors such as infection, obesity and stress all contribute to inflammatory responses and affect the generation and function of macrophages in women. This could therefore impact on the macrophages' ability to support pregnancy," she says.

But the encouraging news is that the laboratory tests also showed that treatment with progesterone could reverse the effects caused by reduced levels of macrophages.

"Insufficient progesterone is one reason for infertility in some women," Professor Robertson says.

"Infertile women are now routinely provided with progesterone supplements as part of their assisted reproductive treatments, and this is also a promising therapy for recurring miscarriage."

But ultimately the researchers hope to improve fertility by more natural means.

"If macrophages are shown to play the same role in women as we've seen in our laboratory studies, this gives us potential new avenues for targeting them with lifestyle and nutritional intervention, improving fertility by advancing the quality of the conception environment."

The results of the study have been published by the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Share This Tweet This Email To Friend
Recent Comments
0 Total Comments
Post a Comment
* your email address will not appear

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Post a Comment
* your email address will not appear

Please enter the word you see in the image below:33343

Your Comment has been posted
Related Articles
Parents are more likely to identify their child's speech and…
Read more
The issue with home births is to support a woman's…
Read more
University of Adelaide experts advise pregnant women to continue taking…
Read more
Sleep is precious and is an important component of healthier…
Read more
Cry babies

Dry your eyes!
The newest additions are on their way from the Babies who cry real tears!


Latest Tech Used In Shipping Containers
Read how the shipping industry has revolutionised

Motherpedia cover-2

Win 1 set of a 4-book hardcover illustrated boxed set
Barbara Murray’s new 4-book Sound Stories is perfect for parents and educators and could assist with NAPLAN results

Motherpedia cover (4)

Where to celebrate Oktoberfest Australia
Get ready for this celebration!

Motherpedia cover-4

A Fortnight of Foodie Experiences at East Village
A taste of East Village. What's in it for me?

Globber my too fix up cover

We Try: Globber My TOO Fix Up
A scooter that grows with your child

Throw a winning cricket pitch

3 Steps to a Winning Backyard Cricket Pitch
Ex-Adelaide Oval legend curator Les Burdett shares his tips for getting your backyard cricket pitch test match ready this summer

A bike that follows your kids life cycle - motherpedia - cover

A Bike That Follows Your Kids Life Cycle
Check out the Bunzi 2-in-1 gradual balance bike!

Moonlight lifestyle

Moonlight Cinema to bring…
Moonlight Cinema announces brand new Western Sydney venue

Screen shot 2019-11-26 at 8.29.12 am

Your Magical Christmas Wonderland…
Adventure park is about to light up the night sky with its "Christmas Festival of Lights"

Screen shot 2019-11-21 at 11.11.36 am

The Preston Market Gets…
It's time to feel pumped up for the holiday season!


Bunnings team members get…
Help raise funds by buying a snag or donating at your local store.