Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Faulty Molecular Switch Can Cause Infertility or Miscarriage

Published: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Bookmark and Share
ICL researchers discovered that womb lining in women with unexplained infertility had high levels of the enzyme SGK1.

Scientists have discovered an enzyme that acts as a 'fertility switch', in a study published in Nature Medicine.

High levels of the protein are associated with infertility, while low levels make a woman more likely to have a miscarriage, the research has shown.

The findings have implications for the treatment of infertility and recurrent miscarriage and could also lead to new contraceptives.

Around one in six women have difficulty getting pregnant and one in 100 women trying to conceive have recurrent miscarriages, defined as the loss of three or more consecutive pregnancies.

Researchers from Imperial College London looked at tissue samples from the womb lining, donated by 106 women who were being treated at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust either for unexplained infertility or for recurrent pregnancy loss.

The women with unexplained infertility had been trying to get pregnant for two years or more and the most common reasons for infertility had been ruled out. The researchers discovered that the womb lining in these women had high levels of the enzyme SGK1.

Conversely, the women suffering from recurrent pregnancy loss had low levels of SGK1.

The team found further evidence of SGK1's importance in experiments using mouse models. Levels of SGK1 in the womb lining decline during the fertile window in mice.

When the researchers implanted extra copies of the SGK1 gene into the womb lining, the mice were unable to get pregnant, suggesting that a fall in SGK1 levels is essential for making the uterus receptive to embryos.

The research at the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology (IRDB) at Imperial College London was led by Professor Jan Brosens, who is now based at the University of Warwick.

"Our experiments on mice suggest that a temporary loss of SGK1 during the fertile window is essential for pregnancy, but human tissue samples show that they remain high in some women who have trouble getting pregnant," he said.

Brosens continued, "I can envisage that in the future, we might treat the womb lining by flushing it with drugs that block SGK1 before women undergo IVF. Another potential application is that increasing SGK1 levels might be used as a new method of contraception."

Any infertility treatment that blocks SGK1 would have to have a short-lived effect, as low levels of the protein after conception seem to be linked to miscarriage.

When the researchers blocked the gene that codes for SGK1 in mice, the mice had no problem getting pregnant.

However, they had smaller litters and showed signs of bleeding in the uterus, suggesting that lack of SGK1 made miscarriage more likely.

After an embryo is implanted, the lining of the uterus develops into a specialized structure called the decidua, and this process can be made to occur when cells from the uterus are cultured in the lab.

Cultured cells from women who had had three or more consecutive miscarriages had significantly lower levels of SGK1 compared to cells from controls.

Blocking the SGK1 gene, both in pregnant mice and in human cell cultures, impaired the cells' ability to protect themselves against oxidative stress, a condition in which there is an excess of reactive chemicals inside cells.

"We found that low levels of SGK1 make the womb lining vulnerable to cellular stress, which might explain why low SGK1 was more common in women who have had recurrent miscarriage," said Madhuri Salker, the study's first author, Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology (IRDB) at Imperial College London.

Salker continued, "In the future, we might take biopsies of the womb lining to identify abnormalities that might give them a higher risk of pregnancy complications, so that we can start treating them before they get pregnant."


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,100+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Gene Expression Controls Revealed
Researchers have modelled every atom in a key part of the process for switching on genes, revealing a whole new area for potential drug targets.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Switching Off Cancers' Ability to Spread
A key molecule in breast and lung cancer cells can help switch off the cancers' ability to spread around the body.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Fossil Find Reveals Just How Big Carnivorous Dinosaur May Have Grown
Researchers at imperial college London have said that an unidentified fossilised bone in a museum has revealed the size of a fearsome Abelisaur and may solve a hundred-year-old puzzle.
Tuesday, March 01, 2016
‘Simple Rules’ Calculate Ovarian Cancer Risk
Scientists have formulated a system that uses ultrasound images to accurately work out the likelihood of an ovarian growth being cancerous.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Intelligence ‘Networks’ Discovered in Brain for the First Time
Scientists from Imperial College London have identified for the first time two clusters of genes linked to human intelligence.
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Modified Mosquitoes Could Help Fight Against Malaria
The results are published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
Tuesday, December 08, 2015
New Technique Negotiates Neuron Jungle To Target Source Of Parkinson’s Disease
Researchers from Imperial College London and Newcastle University believe they have found a potential new way to target cells of the brain affected by Parkinson’s disease.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Designer Molecule Shines a Spotlight on Mysterious Four-Stranded DNA
A small fluorescent molecule has shed new light on knots of DNA thought to play a role in regulating how genes are switched on and off.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
New Drug Target Identified for Serious Heart and Lung Condition
A gene has been identified that sheds new light on a potentially fatal heart and lung condition and could lead to a new treatment.
Friday, August 14, 2015
Scientists Find New Variant of Streptococcal Bacteria Causing Severe Infections
Researchers noticed a sharp rise in infections caused by emm89.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Gene Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis Shows Encouraging Trial Results
A therapy that replaces the faulty gene responsible for cystic fibrosis in patients' lungs has produced encouraging results in a major UK trial.
Friday, July 03, 2015
New Genetic Form of Obesity and Diabetes Discovered
Scientists have discovered a new inherited form of obesity and type 2 diabetes in humans.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
New Genetic Form of Obesity and Diabetes Discovered
Scientists have discovered a new inherited form of obesity and type 2 diabetes in humans.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Researchers Develop New Breath Test to Diagnose Oesophageal and Gastric Cancer
Test will now be tested in a larger trial involving three hospitals in London.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Imperial Researchers Win Health Foundation Grant for Cancer Innovation Study
Each project will receive over £450,000 of funding to support the research.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Scientific News
Insight into Bacterial Resilience and Antibiotic Targets
Variant of CRISPR technology paired with computerized imaging reveals essential gene networks in bacteria.
Illuminating Hidden Gene Regulators
New super-resolution technique visualizes important role of short-lived enzyme clusters.
Genes That Increase Children's Risk Of Blood Infection Identified
A team led by Oxford University has identified genes that make certain children more susceptible to invasive bacterial infections by performing a large genome-wide association study in African children.
Poverty Marks a Gene, Predicting Depression
New study of high-risk teens reveals a biological pathway for depression.
World’s Largest Coral Gene Database
‘Genetic toolkit’ will help shed light on which species survive climate change.
Early Genetic Changes in Premalignant Colorectal Tissue Identified
Findings point to drivers of early cancer development, targets for cancer prevention therapies.
Scientists Find Evidence That Cancer Can Arise Changes
Researchers at Rockefeller University have found a mutation that affects the proteins that package DNA without changing the DNA itself can cause a rare form of cancer.
Modified Microalgae Converts Sunlight into Valuable Medicine
A special type of microalgae can soon produce valuable chemicals such as cancer treatment drugs and much more just by harnessing energy from the sun.
Breakthrough Approach to Breast Cancer Treatment
Scripps scientists have designed a drug candidate that decreases growth of breast cancer cells.
Loss Of Y Chromosome Increases Risk Of Alzheimer’s
Men with blood cells that do not carry the Y chromosome are at greater risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This is in addition to an increased risk of death from other causes, including many cancers. These new findings by researchers at Uppsala University could lead to a simple test to identify those at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,100+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,500+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!