Protein levels could be key to infertility

Researchers believe female infertility and miscarriage could be caused by the malfunction of a single protein

Researchers believe female infertility and miscarriage could be caused by the malfunction of a single protein.

Female infertility and pregnancy loss could be the result of faulty levels of a protein which regulates fluid balance in parts of the womb according to new research.

A team of experts from Imperial College London took samples from the womb lining of more than 100 women and found women with unexplained infertility had high levels of the enzyme SGK1 and those who had experienced miscarriage had low levels.

Much higher levels of the protein disrupted the manufacture of proteins in the fertilised egg and also the womb environment, causing infertility.

With around one in eight known pregnancies ending in miscarriage and recurrent preganncy loss affecting approximately one in 100 women, the findings published in Nature Medicine could lead the medical community one step closer to finding a treatment.

‘In the future, we might take biopsies of the womb lining to identify abnormalities that might give a higher risk of pregnancy complications, so that we can start treating [women] before they get pregnant,’ says researcher Dr Madhuri Salker.

Professor Richard Fleming, of the Glasgow Centre for Reproduction Medicine, says: ‘To have something as clear as this, with a specific enzyme, is great. It is giving us something to focus on.’

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