Immunological changes and stress are associated with different implantation rates in patients undergoing in vitro fertilization–embryo transfer

Acupuncture-Pregnancy-313
Gallinelli A et al, 2001 Fertil Steril 76, 1, 85 Fertility and Sterility 
This study examines the effect of stress on embryo transfer and explores its impact via the immune system. The researchers conclude that stress is associated with high amounts of activated T cells in the peripheral blood which is in turn associated with a reduced implantation rate in women undergoing IVF-ET. The subject of regulation of T cells by acupuncture is something we are examining currently and is one of the hypothesized mechanisms by which acupuncture may increase implantation in some women.


Abstract

Objective: To evaluate the possible correlation between immunological changes and implantation rates in patients who undergo in vitro fertilizationembryo transfer (IVF-ET).

Design: Controlled clinical study.

Setting: University hospital.

Patient(s): Forty infertile women undergoing IVF-ET.

Intervention(s): Stroop Color Word (CW) test, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) test, blood sampling.

Main Outcome Measure(s): Heart rate and systolic and diastolic blood pressure responses to Stroop CW; circulating T, B, T-helper (CD4), and T-suppressor (CD8) lymphocytes.

Result(s): The total number of T lymphocytes increased significantly during superovulation, resulting in significantly higher levels in subjects achieving embryo implantation than in those showing a failure of implantation. An opposite trend was observed for the activated T cells. The number of T-helper lymphocytes and the T-helper/T-suppressor ratio showed a significant increase from baseline to the time of pick-up only in patients with implantation.

Conclusion(s): A prolonged condition of stress, which causes a decreased ability to adapt and a transitory anxious state, is associated with high amounts of activated T cells in the peripheral blood. Such a condition, in turn, is associated with a reduced implantation rate in women undergoing IVF-ET.