Public Release: 

Body clock genes could hold key to recurrent miscarriages

University of Warwick

Researchers at the University of Warwick and UHCW have discovered how body clock genes could affect women's ability to have children.

The study, by medics at Warwick Medical School and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, pinpoints how body clock genes are temporarily switched off in the lining of the womb to allow an embryo to implant. Timing of this event is critical for pregnancy.

The researchers examined endometrial cells from womb linings of healthy women, and also biopsies from women who had sadly suffered from recurrent pregnancy loss.

The study has found that women suffering from recurrent miscarriages may be less able to regulate clock genes in the lining of the womb.

Published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), the study also provides new insights into how night and shift work could affect female fertility.

It is hoped that by identifying the causes behind recurrent miscarriages, that fertility experts will be able to help more prospective parents than ever before.

It could have major implications for IVF, as the findings suggest that fertility specialists could, in future, target bio-rhythms in the womb to improve the environment for implanted embryos.

Professor Jan Brosens, Consultant in Reproductive Health at Warwick Medical School and UHCW NHS Trust said: "Infertility affects one in six women across the world, but the area of body clock genes has not been looked at in this detail before.

"It's crucial during pregnancy that mothers and their babies' embryos are able to synchronise. If this fails to happen, it can cause miscarriage. However, it can also increase the risk of complications in later stages of pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia, fetal growth restriction and pre-term birth.

Professor Siobhan Quenby, Consultant Obstetrician at Warwick Medical School and UHCW NHS Trust said: "We believe our study has huge implications in the understanding of the body clock genes and their effect on female fertility.

"We hope that it will increase worldwide knowledge about possible reasons for infertility and recurrent miscarriages, so that we are able to help families achieve their dream of having children."

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Notes to editors

The full paper, 'The Clock Protein Period 2 Synchronizes Mitotic Expansion and Decidual Transformation of Human Endometrial Stromal Cells' has been published in the April edition of the FASEB journal, and is available here: http://www.fasebj.org/content/29/4/1603.abstract

Infertility affects one in six couples across the world. Miscarriage is the most common complication of pregnancy. Approximately, one in seven clinical pregnancies result in miscarriage, mostly prior to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

It is estimated that 5% of women experience two clinical miscarriages and approximately 1% three or more losses.

Media contacts:

Kelly Parkes-Harrison, Senior Press and Communications Manager, University of Warwick, 02476 150868, 07824 540863, k.e.parkes@warwick.ac.uk

Sarah Dakin, Communications Manager, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, 02476 967617

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