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Open Access Review

New insights into mechanisms behind miscarriage

Elisabeth Clare Larsen1, Ole Bjarne Christiansen1, Astrid Marie Kolte1 and Nick Macklon12345*

Author Affiliations

1 The Fertility Clinic, Juliane Marie Centre, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Aalborg Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark

3 Division of Human Development and Health, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

4 Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Academic Unit of Human Development and Health, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

5 Complete Fertility Centre Southampton, Princess Anne Hospital, Coxford Road, Southampton, SO16 5YA, UK

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BMC Medicine 2013, 11:154  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-154

Published: 26 June 2013

Abstract

Sporadic miscarriage is the most common complication of early pregnancy. Two or three consecutive pregnancy losses is a less common phenomenon, and this is considered a distinct disease entity. Sporadic miscarriages are considered to primarily represent failure of abnormal embryos to progress to viability. Recurrent miscarriage is thought to have multiple etiologies, including parental chromosomal anomalies, maternal thrombophilic disorders, immune dysfunction and various endocrine disturbances. However, none of these conditions is specific to recurrent miscarriage or always associated with repeated early pregnancy loss. In recent years, new theories about the mechanisms behind sporadic and recurrent miscarriage have emerged. Epidemiological and genetic studies suggest a multifactorial background where immunological dysregulation in pregnancy may play a role, as well as lifestyle factors and changes in sperm DNA integrity. Recent experimental evidence has led to the concept that the decidualized endometrium acts as biosensor of embryo quality, which if disrupted, may lead to implantation of embryos destined to miscarry. These new insights into the mechanisms behind miscarriage offer the prospect of novel effective interventions that may prevent this distressing condition.

Keywords:
Embryo Selection; Epidemiology; Genetics; Immunology; Miscarriage; Recurrent Miscarriage; Sperm DNA Integrity