A new study shows low levels of a protein involved in the immune system could be a potential indicator for a miscarriage.
Approximately 10 percent to 15 percent of pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Currently there are no treatments to prevent a miscarriage and no markers to identify women at high risk for one.
Macrophage inhibitory cytokine 1 (MIC1) plays an important part in the immune system and is found in high concentrations between a mother and her fetus during pregnancy. Researchers in Australia investigated whether the levels of MIC1 are associated with a miscarriage.
The research included 300 pregnant women who gave a blood sample during the first trimester of pregnancy. Researchers say 100 of the women miscarried and the other 200 women did not. Investigators report the MIC1 levels were about one-third lower among the women who miscarried compared to the women who did not. They also found no difference in the levels in relation to the timing of the miscarriage. However, they say in most cases low MIC1 concentrations preceded miscarriage by several weeks.
Researchers say, while it is tempting to speculate that changes in MIC1 is part of the mechanism that causes a miscarriage, it's too early to draw that conclusion. However, they feel if a causal link between MIC1 and miscarriage is confirmed, this might be useful in the prevention of miscarriage.
In an accompanying commentary, researchers from Israel say if the measurement of MIC1 could predict miscarriage, this could be a useful tool for the medical community. However, they also feel that the crucial question is whether the decrease in concentrations of MIC1 is connected to the pathological processes of a miscarriage. But they add if the results of this study can be confirmed, then this could lead to new therapies to prevent pregnancy loss.