Thursday, April 7, 2011

Genetic link: Mystery behind recurrent spontaneous abortions unravelled

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: City scientists have unravelled the mystery behind recurrent spontaneous abortions among Indian women by linking this hitherto unexplained phenomenon to changes in the human leukocyte antigen-G gene.

Thousands of women in the country suffer from frequent abortions without any valid medical reasons. The abortions are spontaneous and are recurrent. The city team of researchers has now found a genetic cause for this major problem.

A woman is diagnosed to be suffering from RSA if she loses pregnancy within 20 weeks more than two times. Though various factors have been linked to RSA, there's no conclusive evidence thus far that RSA is triggered by genetic or non-genetic factors, or both. About 15 per cent of women are estimated to suffer from miscarriage within 20 weeks of gestation. Many of these cases are linked to RSA.

Researchers from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Biological Anthropology Unit of the Indian Statistical Institute and two private fertility centres have found an increase in the frequency of a particular gene (14-bp) deletion in women suffering from recurrent spontaneous abortions. This deletion results in extremely high levels of soluble human leukocyte antigen (HLA-G), thus causing abortion.

"The possible importance of human leukocyte antigen-G in pregnancy disorders is more likely based on the polymorphism in the HLA-G," according to Dr K Thangaraj of the CCMB.

The team selected women with two or more spontaneous abortions for the research. The abortion in women had no obvious cause and the miscarriages were termed as "unexplained" by doctors who attended on them.

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