Director of Research, Dr. Darren Ritsick Attends Conferences

Posted By Dr. Braverman || 12-Jun-2013

Earlier this month our Director of Research, Dr. Darren Ritsick, attended a joint conference of the American Society for Reproductive Immunology (ASRI) and the European Society for Reproductive Immunology (ESRI) in Boston, Massachusetts. The conference was attended by hundreds of researchers from all over the world including many of the most prominent and influential researchers in the field of reproductive immunology. Over 4 days, Dr. Ritsick had the opportunity to attend seminars and poster sessions on the latest advances in all areas of reproductive immunology and to exchange ideas with the scientists leading these advances. A few key points of interest are noted below:

  • New studies continue to show the importance for activation of uterine natural killer (uNK) cells by invading trophoblast cells of the embryo in promoting vascular remodeling in the uterus necessary to support embryo implantation and fetal growth. This research continues to define the importance of a group of receptors on uNK cells called KIRs in this process and how specific combinations of KIRs present in some individuals can lead to defective implantation and placentation that can manifest as recurrent miscarriage, intrauterine growth restriction and preeclampsia. While new research continues to refine our understanding of how KIRs regulate implantation and placentation, the importance of this system to reproductive success/failure is already clearly established and we routinely test our patients for KIRs. For further information about this testing, please read under the subheading "HLA-C and KIR" in our earlier post.
  • New research continues to support the role of anti-HLA antibodies in adverse pregnancy outcome. Research presented at this conference in particular provided support for a role of anti-HLA antibodies in causing spontaneous preterm delivery, while earlier research indicated a role in recurrent miscarriage. Here at Braverman IVF & Reproductive Immunology we take a sophisticated approach to the identification of anti-HLA antibodies that allows us to determine not only if they are present, but also if they are specific for paternal HLA and if they are of the type thought to cause damage to the embryo/fetus. Please read under the heading "Identification of Anti-Paternal HLA Antibodies" in our earlier post for further information about this testing .
  • A great deal of new research is revealing new roles for cells of the innate immune system, including macrophages, neutrophils and monocytes in the maternal response to pregnancy. For example, research presented at the conference demonstrated a direct role for sperm in regulating the production of factors by the endometrium involved in recruitment of neutrophils. Interestingly, one of the factors produced by the endometrium in response to sperm was G-CSF which is the active component of Neupogen.

As always, we will keep up with these and all other new developments in reproductive immunology and continue to use this information to further advance our diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

We are also very excited that Dr. Braverman has been selected as Co-Chairman of the 2014 ASRI Meeting in New York!

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