Conception: Natural Killer T Cells

Fancy being told that you have a inordinately high population of Natural Killer T-Cells. Even with my science background I was left scratching my head. Why was our fertility doctor concerning herself with my immunity? After all I never ever fell sick. And I was in her clinic to talk about making babies…

What I was soon to learn was going to be a revelation. Despite their name, these immune cells usually play a beneficial role in the development of an embryo, but abnormally high levels of Natural Killer cells are found in the uterus of around one-sixth of women who recurrently miscarry. Yes, these cells are a key player in the immune system, which is triggered to defend the body from infection. One theory is that in some cases they may stop an embryo implanting in the womb. Was this perhaps one of the reasons why two rounds of IVF failed Erroll and I?

Erroll forever upbeat from doctor's surgery to doctor's surgery...

Erroll forever upbeat from doctor’s surgery to doctor’s surgery…

The authors of the new study, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism make a link between very high levels of Natural Killer cells in the lining of the womb and not enough production of natural steroids. Having this steroid deficiency in turn leads to a reduction in the fats and vitamins that are needed in pregnancy. Hmm…

Steroids, which are thought to reduce the number of Natural Killer cells in the womb, are commonly used as a treatment for recurrent miscarriage, and appear to help some women to go on to have a normal pregnancy.

Could the research provide a reasonable scientific justification for steroid-based treatment to prevent a next failed IVF round in me?

So, our doctor decided to suppress my level of Natural Killer cells in order to better my chance of conception. I was prescribed a daily dose of steroid prednisolone and blood-thinning medicine – heparin. I took the oral steroids and the injectable heparin daily from the beginning of the third round of IVF until the third month of our miraculous pregnancy…

Belly at 31 weeks gestation

Belly at 31 weeks gestation

 

 

 

One Response to Conception: Natural Killer T Cells

  1. Hey, thanks for sharing I always look forward to reading your posts one of the few blogs I still follow home decorated

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