Researchers at the University of Warwick and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire have discovered how body clock genes can affect women's ability to have children. Researchers pinpointed how body clock genes are temporarily switched off in the lining of the womb to allow an embryo to implant. Timing of this event is critical for pregnancy.
The researchers examined endometrial cells from womb linings of healthy women, and also biopsies from women who had sadly suffered from recurrent pregnancy loss. The study, which found that women suffering from recurrent miscarriages may be less able to regulate clock genes in the lining of the womb, also provides new insights into how night and shift work could affect female fertility.
It is hoped that by identifying the causes behind recurrent miscarriages, fertility experts will be able to help more prospective parents than ever before.
It could have major implications for IVF, as the findings suggest that fertility specialists could, in future, target bio-rhythms in the womb to improve the environment for implanted embryos.
Researcher Jan Brosens said that infertility affects one in six women across the world, but the area of body clock genes has not been looked at in this detail before, adding that it's crucial during pregnancy that mothers and their babies' embryos are able to synchronize. If this fails to happen, it can cause miscarriage.
Brosens noted that it can also increase the risk of complications in later stages of pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia, fetal growth restriction and pre-term birth.
Researcher Siobhan Quenby added that they believe the study has huge implications in the understanding of the body clock genes and their effect on female fertility and hope that it will increase worldwide knowledge about possible reasons for infertility and recurrent miscarriages, so that we are able to help families achieve their dream of having children.
The study appears in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology