"Switch" key enzyme for infertility and miscarriage

"Switch" key enzyme for infertility and miscarriage
Scientists have identified a "fertility switch" protein that appears to increase infertility if levels are too high and fuel miscarriage if it is too low.

A team from Imperial College London, took samples of the lining of the uterus of more than 100 women.

Writing in the journal Nature Medicine, said that women with unexplained infertility had higher levels of SGK1 enzyme, while those who aborted had low levels.

A fertility expert said the research provides new avenues of research.

About one in six women have difficulty becoming pregnant, and one in 100 women trying to conceive experience recurrent miscarriages, defined as the loss of three or more consecutive pregnancies.

The Imperial College team also conducted studies with mice, they found that levels of SGK1 in decreasing endometrium during the window of time during which they can become pregnant.

When extra copies of SGK1 gene is implanted in the lining of the uterus, these mice were unable to get pregnant.

The researchers say this indicates a decrease in SGK1 levels is essential to make the uterus receptive to the embryos.

However, if low levels of SGK1 persist in pregnancy, this seems to cause different problems.

When the researchers blocked the gene SGK1, the mice had no trouble getting pregnant but they had smaller litters and showed signs of bleeding, suggesting a lack of SGK1 fact miscarriage more likely.
"Research Focus"

Professor Jan Brosens, who led the research at the Imperial Institute of Biology of Reproduction and Development, said: "Our experiments with mice suggest that the temporary loss of SGK1 during the fertile phase is essential for pregnancy, but the tissue samples demonstrate that human remains high in some women who have trouble getting pregnant.

"I can imagine that in the future, we may treat the uterine lining by washing with drugs that block SGK1 before women undergoing IVF."
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"It's all very well to measure something that is not - whether or not you can fix is ​​the next step"
Professor Richard Fleming
Glasgow Centre for Reproductive Medicine

After an embryo is implanted, the lining of the uterus develops in a specialized structure called the decidua.

The team says lab tests show low levels of the enzyme may affect the ability of decidual cells to protect against oxidative stress, a condition in which there is an excess of reactive chemicals in cells.

Dr. Madhuri Salk, who also worked on the study, said: "We found that low levels of SGK1 to the lining of the uterus vulnerable to cellular stress, which could explain why low SGK1 was more frequent in women who had abortion recurrent involuntary.

"In the future, we may take biopsies of the lining of the uterus for abnormalities that may give them a higher risk of pregnancy complications, so we can start trying before they become pregnant."

Professor Richard Fleming, the Center for Reproductive Medicine in Glasgow, said the investigation was "encouraging."

"To have something as clear as this, with a specific enzyme, is great. It gives us something to focus on."

However, Professor Fleming, who is also a member of the British Fertility Society, warned there could be some time before the discovery to practice every day.

"It's all very well to measure something that is not - whether or not you can fix it the next step.

"But at least we know somewhere that is directly involved, and to explore.
"Switch" key enzyme for infertility and miscarriage

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