Watch the webinar recording with Dr. Fernando Sánchez, Clinic Director at Ginemed, Spain, who has explained the immune factor and its impact on embryo implantation in IVF treatment.
Crohn’s disease is one of the things that affect the immunity system. One of the main immunity organs in the body is the gut, and if you have Crohn’s disease, you have a problem with this immunity system in your gut. Many antigens reach the body through the intestine, so it’s very important to do a treatment to reduce this exacerbated immunity before getting pregnant. Anybody who is suffering from Crohn’s disease has to do corticoids.
My recommendation in your case is not to do any study regarding immunological exams. Unless you have a previous illness or there is a problem in your family like a thrombophilic situation or infection situation. If there is no previous problem, you are going to start the egg donation program, and you never got pregnant or had a miscarriage, you have a higher chance to become pregnant. My recommendation is not to do anything. You can just do a normal study to be sure that your endometrium is okay, and with this, begin the treatment.
We can talk about having a problem with immunological situations if we have implantation failure. We are talking about at least 3 transfers, and those 3 transfers were with blastocysts and no risk, a woman was less than 40 or is having an egg donor program, or you had previous miscarriages or an immune problem. My recommendation is not, to begin with checking the immunological system because the problem is when you are doing this is that sometimes you begin to find results in the studies that are not so clear, and we begin to do treatments. I work in an implantation failure unit most of the time when a woman comes to us, and she had a couple of failed cycles. We have to take out the treatments because they are doing treatments that sometimes are bad for the women, it is not an immunological problem. So we can proceed with looking for immune issues only if there is any indication.
The idea is not to take this together because it is not going to work. If you are using corticosteroids, intralipids, or intravenous immunoglobulin, they are using the same target. If you combine this medication, you are going to reduce the response of your immune system, and you are not going to get pregnant. For the immune system to work well, you need all the treatments we are using in medicine. These treatments are for reducing the response of the immune system, mainly the corticosteroids. Most of the time, you need the immune system to work well to achieve pregnancy because if your natural killers don’t work, they don’t produce cytokines, and it doesn’t move the blood vessels to open the blood vessels. The treatment with corticoids or intravenous immunoglobulins you need to have only if you have exacerbated immunity because you have a previous problem, but you don’t use it all together for sure.
For sure, it is very important. The problem is that at this moment, I can’t tell you exactly what you have to do to improve your microflora, but the microflora is important for sure. This is the first barrier of the body, so microflora controls all the viruses, bacteria that are good and are first in contact with the microflora. Microflora is good bacteria, so it’s very important.
It’s absolutely the opposite. The immune system in a transplant works the opposite way that the immune system works in pregnancy. In pregnancy, if you are different, you have a higher chance to implant. In transplantation, f you are different, you have a higher chance to reject a transplant, so it’s completely the opposite way.
The biggest problem we have in reproduction is when you have to study the immune system, so there is not only a question of natural killers. In your case, as you have a problem of chronic inflammation in your body, it’s very important to reduce this chronic inflammation, and we can do it, for example, with corticosteroids, but we can also do it with some type of diet, or we can do with intralipids or other things. It is not the only way to reduce this chronic inflammation, and after that, we have to know exactly how your natural killers are going to respond. For example, we have to know how your KIR receptors are, how yours and your husband’s HLA-C are. Depending on that, we are going to find out how your natural killers respond. If the response of your natural killers, for example, is low, we need to put more stress in your endometrium to have more activity of these natural killers, apart from Crohn’s disease. If, for example, you are having a low natural killer response, and let’s say you are KIR AA with C1C1, we need to reduce this. Using donor sperm for me is the same, so there is not a problem.
This is an endometrial biopsy, and we have to do this endometrial biopsy in a time around implantation around 5 days of progesterone or 7 days after the peak of the LH. At this time, you have to do the endometrial biopsy, and in this endometrial biopsy, you have to look for some combination of the receptor of the lymphocytes to know if you are looking for a lymphocyte T or lymphocyte B or a natural killer, it is another kind of lymphocyte. For example, if you take out CD3 negative, just with this, you avoid all the lymphocyte T, and you have to look for a combination of CD 56 and CD16. So, CD3 negative, with some combination of CD56 or CD16, you can decide what kind of natural killer you have in your endometrium. The biologists also give you the number of these cells in the endometrium.
The immune system with high natural killer cells is good. Having high natural killers is not a problem by itself, so the question is what kind of natural killers we are talking about. That depends on if we are talking about uterine natural killers to help the implantation or cytotoxic natural killers. Regarding lifestyle, the recommendation we use is to do the things that are good for your quality of life, they are good for your immune system. The best recommendation is to do some exercise, not to do heavy exercise but some exercise, about half an hour of walking, for example, is good. Taking care of your diet, not to eat too much fat. Also, to have a relaxed life, to sleep well and a good number of hours, it is very important. All the things that help you to feel good, help your immune system.
Preeclampsia is a problem of implantation, and it is very difficult to treat. You have to know that if you have preeclampsia in the first pregnancy, you have a higher risk of having preeclampsia in the next pregnancy. Usually, there is some way of controlling it with a low-dose of aspirin, 100 milligrams per day from the beginning of the pregnancy. It is also possible to control it with uterine artery Doppler ultrasound around the 20 weeks of pregnancy. There is no way to prevent preeclampsia in 100%. If you decide to go ahead with another pregnancy, you have to know that the risk exists, and there is no way to avoid it for sure. It happens much more frequently when you are older than 45, and it’s much more frequent when you are talking about the donated embryo, and it’s also much more frequent when you are talking about twin pregnancies, so the recommendation is to transfer only one embryo to avoid the chance of twins.
It depends on the HLA-C of the mother because the KIR AA is not a good combination, but it’s not a good combination only in the case when the mother has less C2 than the embryo, for example, in this case, imagine that the mother is HLA C1C2 nothing happens and there is no need for any treatments. If the mother is C2C2, there is not a problem, you don’t need to do any treatments.
The only reason for doing the treatment, in this case, is when the mother is C1C1 because you have 50% chances of having a baby C1C2, and in this case, my recommendation is to use intralipids rather than IVIG. The results are almost the same, and the price is around 10 times less. With C2C2, there is no problem at all. You don’t need to do any kinds of treatment.
If you are studying the immunological system, you need to do KIR analysis. If you study the immunological system, you need to also check the KIR, the HLA-C, the natural killers, the macrophages, the microbiota, the antinuclear antibodies. There is a couple of studies that are related to immunological studies, and KIR is mandatory.
The reason for that is not the immunological KIR, the reason is the way of implantation is when the embryo is donated and when it’s not donated. The way of implantation is a little difficult, and the risk of preeclampsia is a little higher, for example, if you are talking about the same age and same problems in women using her own eggs, the risk of preeclampsia is around 2 – 3 % at the age of 38-39. If you are talking about the same age and donated embryos the risk of preeclampsia is around 6%. We have to live with this because there is no way to change this risk of preeclampsia.
Usually, I’m not prescribing steroids, it’s a medication that has a very limited indication, and usually, it is indicated when you have a previous condition, previous illness, and it is very difficult to need steroids to reduce the immune system because usually, we need to increase this system, not to reduce it. When you use steroids, you don’t have more risk of getting coronavirus. Even for coronavirus, one of the treatments you do is steroids. The main problem with coronavirus is that the response of the immune system is very different between people. In some people, it is normal, and there are no symptoms or very few symptoms. Some others have a very high response in terms of immunity. For these people, steroids are very good because they are reducing the immune coronavirus response. It is one of the coronavirus treatment options that is the best nowadays.
If you are HIV positive, you are under some treatments to control the immune system. Probably, in these cases, you need to modulate the response of your endometrium to the embryo. We probably need a lot of studies on that just to be sure that this could be a possibility, but you’re doing egg donation, you have done PGD on this embryo, so everything from the point of view of genetics is okay. Probably you can increase the chance of pregnancy with some Filgrastim growth factor in the uterus or subcutaneous growth factors. You need a couple of studies to do. In this situation, it could be an approach for you.
The main difference is that the action is completely different. The uterine natural killers are natural killers that are mainly producers of cytokines, and these cytokines are chemical products that stimulate the blood vessels and stimulate the surrounding of the natural killer. The blood natural killers are natural killers, which attach to the virus or the cells, strange cells, or the bacteria and destroy these bacteria. They produce a few cytokines, and these, for example, are CD16 positive, when you are looking at the uterine natural killers are CD16 negative. It depends on if the natural killers are mainly producers of cytokines or cytotoxic. So blood cytotoxic, uterus cytokines, the same name but completely different functions.
If you are 44, the reason for these miscarriages in 99% is due to a genetic problem. My recommendation in a situation like this where you have a 99% chance of having a problem is to avoid it. Probably to change to an egg donor program. It could also be an immunological problem, it could be, but the chance of that is only 1%. At 42, the chance of having an aneuploid embryo is around 87%, at 38, it is not so bad. So my recommendation again is to go to an egg donation program and try to forget about the immunological problems, do a normal cycle of the egg donor, and your chance of becoming pregnant will be around 70% with no miscarriage.
If you have done more than 2 transfers with the egg donation cycle, of course, because it is not logical, so if you do a transfer with an egg donation cycle, the chance of becoming pregnant is around 70%. If you do a second transfer, you have 60% of this 40%, so you reach 84%. If you have 3 transfers, you have more than a 90% chance of becoming pregnant. If you are not pregnant for sure, there is a problem. There is not a question of statistics, you have to look for immunity, thrombophilia, anatomical reason in the endometrium. You also have to look for infections in the endometrium, you have to look for the blood flow of your uterus. There are a lot of things you have to look for if you had 2 or 3 egg donation failed attempts. It is not only immunity, but immunity is one part of this, and it’s important, but that is not the only problem.
If you are looking at natural killers in blood vessels, you can have an answer that could be important from a rheumatologic point of view, but I have no information at all regarding the pregnancy or something related to pregnancy like miscarriages or implantation failure or anything so this forgets about the results if they’re good or bad it’s not important because they are not related with the pregnancy.
The second thing is that at this moment, the situation is different than it was before because you are talking about your 5 cycles and probably doing them had to take a couple of years, and I don’t know what happened before. Now, you are 42, and with your history of 5 cycles, my recommendation is not to look for immunological problems or anatomic problems. I would recommend changing to an egg donor cycle because there is probably some immunological situation with you. You could do both things, but if you are going to go with your own eggs, you have to do it with the PGT-A, just to be sure that the embryo is normal and the chance to have a normal embryo at 42 is lower. You have to think about it.
Intralipid can help for high natural killers, but that depends on the indication. That is the thing I tried to explain at the very beginning, so there is not just 1 test, and with this test, you have to do this, or you have to do the other. It’s a thorough evaluation of the women that can help you decide what kind of treatment is needed. Intralipids can help you, for sure. It depends on if this uterine NK is cytotoxic or not and when you do this biopsy, if it was the window of implantation, or if it was before.
Yes, if there is any indication, of course, you can use this treatment, but this treatment has to have a high indication. It’s not okay if you didn’t do this, you’re going to try something else because if you began with this, and next you can do Heparin, or you can do a Neupogen, and you are doing another cycle and another. If you have 4 cycles with no pregnancy, you have to know what’s happening before doing any kind of treatments, and if the steroids are indicated, it is very good, but only if they are indicated. If not, it can be a really bad idea.