Document Type : Original Article


1 Center for Reproductive Medicine, The First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510080, China.

2 Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Reproductive Medicine, Guangzhou 510080, China.

3 Department of Surgery, LKS Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.


Background: Immunotherapies targeting peripheral natural killer (pbNK) cells in unexplained recurrent miscarriage (uRM) remain controversial. We hypothesized that the change in pbNK cell count might be a result of innate immune responses rather than a cause.
Objective: To explore whether the pbNK count is significantly different in women testing positive than those testing negative for commonly studied autoimmune markers.
Methods: Peripheral blood samples were collected from 302 eligible patients with uRM for the antinuclear antibody (ANA) testing determined by the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), anti-thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPO-Ab) testing and anti-thyroglobulin antibody (Tg-Ab) testing determined by the chemiluminescent immunoassay, and pbNK cell testing determined by flow cytometry. The patients were divided into two groups according to the pbNK normal range, and the comparative analysis entailed an examination of the prevalence rates of autoantibodies within the high pbNK group and the normal pbNK group, followed by a comprehensive investigation into the potential correlations between autoantibodies and pbNK cells.
Results: There was a positive association between TPO-Ab positivity and high pbNK cells (p=0.016, OR=5.097, 95% CI 1.356–19.159), while there was a negative association between ANA positivity and high pbNK cells (p=0.013, OR=0.293, 95% CI 0.111-0.773). TPO-Ab-positive patients had a higher pbNK cell count compared with TPO-Ab-negative patients, while ANA-positive patients had a lower pbNK cell count compared with ANA-negative patients.
Conclusion: The change in pbNK cell count may be a consequence of immune responses, and there should be careful consideration in applying it as an immunotherapeutic index.