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Open Access Original clinical investigation

Hyperhomocysteinemia in women with unexplained sterility or recurrent early pregnancy loss from Southern Italy: a preliminary report

Maristella D'Uva1, Pierpaolo Di Micco2*, Ida Strina1, Carlo Alviggi1, Mariateresa Iannuzzo2, Antonio Ranieri1, Antonio Mollo1 and Giuseppe De Placido1

Author Affiliations

1 Dipartimento di Scienze Ostetriche Ginecologiche e Medicina della Riproduzione, Area Funzionale di Medicina della Riproduzione ed Endoscopia Ginecologica, University of Naples "Federico II", Italy

2 Internal Medicine Division, Fatebenefratelli Hospital of Naples, Naples, Italy

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Thrombosis Journal 2007, 5:10  doi:10.1186/1477-9560-5-10

Published: 11 July 2007

Abstract

Background

Hyperhomocysteinemia has been described as a risk factor for unexplained recurrent pregnancy loss. Increased levels of homocysteine may be due to inadequate dietary intake of folate and vitamin B12 and inherited defects within the methionine-homocysteine pathway such as MTHFR C677T gene polymorphism. However, the association between hyperhomocysteinemia and sterility problems have been underlined only for recurrent pregnancy loss while a relationship between hyperhomocysteinemia and female sterility is still matter of discussion.

Aim

This study sought to find out a possible relationship between sterility (primary sterility or secondary sterility due to recurrent pregnancy loss) and homocysteine metabolism.

Patients and Methods

We selected 20 patients with recurrent pregnancy loss, 20 patients with unexplained female sterility and 20 healthy women as control group. Several whole blood samples were collected by venipuncture. Firstly homocysteinemia and other related variables were tested (i.e. folate and vitamin B12 levels); thereafter DNA was extracted by a further whole blood sample collected in EDTA in order to screen MTHFR C677T gene polymorphism. Statistical analysis was performed by chi square test; differences were considered to be significant if p < 0.05.

Results

The median fasting total plasma homocysteine concentration was 19.2 ± 6.14 μM for patients with recurrent pregnancy loss, while was 21.05 ± 8.78 μM for patients with unexplained sterility, vs 7.85 ± 3.31 μM of control group (p < 0.05). Fifteen patients with unexplained female sterility showed MTHFR C677T homozigosity vs 17 with recurrent pregnancy loss and 3 in the control group (p < 0.05). On the other hand no significant differences were found in the levels of vitamin B 12 in the three groups, while reduced folate concentrations were found in women with unexplained female sterility and recurrent pregnancy loss (p < 0.05 vs control group.

Discussion

MTHFR C677T gene polymorphism is frequent in the studied populations. These data raise questions on the role of the homocysteine metabolism in sterility problems. Even though increased homocysteine (i.e. > 15 μM) and MTHFR C677T homozigosity have already been described as risk factors for recurrent pregnancy loss, few studies evaluated their role in women with unexplained sterility. Further studies on larger series are needed to better understand the role of homocysteine metabolism, including folate metabolism, in this clinical setting.