Different mechanisms mediated by the expression of the HLA‐class Ib HLA‐G products are suggested to account for the induction of immune tolerance against the paternal antigens of the fetus during pregnancy. Soluble HLA‐G antigens, mainly produced by cytotrophoblast cells at the materno‐fetal interface and circulating in the body fluids, show a capacity analogous to that of membrane‐boundstructures to inhibit NK cells. In the present report we have investigated, using specific ELISA, the presence of sHLA‐G molecules in culture supernatants of early embryos obtained by in vitro fertilization (IVF) before transfer. The data obtained from the analysis of 285 supernatants corresponding to 101 IVF procedures (43 IVF, 58 intracytoplasmic sperm injection) identify two groups of patients on the basis of sHLA‐G antigen presence. No differences in clinical parameters were observed between the groups, but positive embryo implantations occurred only in women showing sHLA‐G molecules in culture supernatants (Fisher's exact p value 2.56×10–3). The results obtained indicate that expression of HLA‐G products in embryo cells is a mandatory, but not sufficient, prerequisite for the development of pregnancy.
European Journal of Immunology – Wiley
Published: Feb 1, 2002
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