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Benkhalifa, M.;  Joao, F.;  Duval, C.;  Montjean, D.;  Bouricha, M.;  Cabry, R.;  Bélanger, M.;  Bahri, H.;  Miron, P.;  Benkhalifa, M. Endometrium Immunomodulation in Assisted Reproductive Technology. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 23 June 2024).
Benkhalifa M,  Joao F,  Duval C,  Montjean D,  Bouricha M,  Cabry R, et al. Endometrium Immunomodulation in Assisted Reproductive Technology. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 23, 2024.
Benkhalifa, Mustapha, Fabien Joao, Cynthia Duval, Debbie Montjean, Molka Bouricha, Rosalie Cabry, Marie-Claire Bélanger, Hatem Bahri, Pierre Miron, Moncef Benkhalifa. "Endometrium Immunomodulation in Assisted Reproductive Technology" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 23, 2024).
Benkhalifa, M.,  Joao, F.,  Duval, C.,  Montjean, D.,  Bouricha, M.,  Cabry, R.,  Bélanger, M.,  Bahri, H.,  Miron, P., & Benkhalifa, M. (2022, November 02). Endometrium Immunomodulation in Assisted Reproductive Technology. In Encyclopedia.
Benkhalifa, Mustapha, et al. "Endometrium Immunomodulation in Assisted Reproductive Technology." Encyclopedia. Web. 02 November, 2022.
Endometrium Immunomodulation in Assisted Reproductive Technology

After more than four decades of assisted reproductive technology (ART) practice worldwide, more than 60% of women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments fail to become pregnant after the first embryo transfer and nearly 20% of patients are suffering from unexplained recurrent implantation failures (RIFs) and repeated pregnancy loss (RPL). The literature reported different causes of RIF–RPL, mainly multifactorial, endometrial and idiopathic. RIF remains a black box because of the complicated categorization and causes of this physio-pathological dysregulation of implantation and pregnancy process after ovarian stimulation. Many options were suggested as solutions to treat RIF–RPL with controversial results on their usefulness.

infertility assisted reproductive technology implantation failure endometrium immunomodulation

1. Introduction

In assisted reproductive technology (ART) programs, 60–70% of women fail to become pregnant after embryo transfer. Repeated implantation failure (RIF) remains a black box in daily practice due to the complicated categorization and causes of this physio-pathological dysregulation [1]. Different causes of RIF were reported, mainly multifactorial, endometrial and idiopathic. Multifactorial RIF can be caused by maternal and paternal factors, gamete and embryo quality, infections and lifestyle changes in combination with psychological status and oxidative stress [1][2]. Impaired endometrium function such as abnormal growth or loss of vascularization can account for endometrial RIF, but idiopathic RIF, caused mainly by abnormal cross-talk between the embryo and endometrium, remains the principal question and needs to be elucidated [1].
RIF may be defined as a failure to obtain a pregnancy after multiple viable embryo transfers during IVF treatment [3], but its definition is inconsistent between studies. The most common definition was portrayed by Bashiri and colleagues [4] who describe RIF as three or more pregnancy failures following the transfer of at least three good-quality embryos [4]. However, other authors such as Coughlan and colleagues [5] suggest including maternal age, number of embryos transferred and number of previous cycles to the definition of RIF [5]. Interestingly, a consensus is emerging thanks to a recent extensive survey. It was proposed to define RIF as the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 2–3 IVF cycles with 1–4 good-quality embryos [6]. RIF is a challenge for clinicians as its etiology includes various possible causes [2].
The causes of RIF can be divided into two categories: maternal (uterine anatomic abnormalities, chronic endometritis, non-receptive endometrium, antiphospholipid antibody syndrome and immunological factors) and embryonic (genetic defects and other factors specific to embryonic development) causes [3]. In the absence of male factors, oxidative stress, bad-quality embryos and anatomical abnormalities such as hydro-salpinx and thrombophilia, RIF seems to be caused by impaired endometrial function such as abnormal endometrial growth or loss of vascularization [4]. However, RIF caused by immunological factors could be manageable using several innovative therapeutic options. Among them, intrauterine administration of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) or autologous peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) has been suggested as a treatment for patients suffering from RIF [4][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16].

2. Endometrium Immunomodulation via Intrauterine Insemination of Activated Autologous Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMCs)

PBMCs from patients with RIF are usually isolated during the ovulation period using a lymphocyte separation medium composed of an iso-osmotic poly-sucrose and sodium diatrizoate solution to separate mononuclear cells (including B-lymphocytes, T-lymphocytes and monocytes) from the other blood cells. After separation, PBMCs are generally activated with hCG or corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and cultured in vitro for 24–72 h in a humidified incubator with 5% CO2 at 37 °C (Figure 1).
Figure 1. PBMC isolation technique and in vitro culture (PBS: phosphate-buffered saline; PBMC: peripheral blood mononuclear cell).
After culture, PBMCs are administered in utero using a catheter [4][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]. However, the number of cells administered in utero is not homogeneous among all studies investigating the use of PBMC in the treatment of RIF (Table 1). Although there were some methodological variations between studies in terms of the number of previous cycles, cycle type, and number and quality of transferred embryos, patients were generally administered with 10 to 30 million PBMCs [7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]. Madkour and colleagues showed a significant increase in clinical pregnancy rate (CPR) with only 1 million cells [10]. Furthermore, in a recent meta-analysis, Qin and colleagues have demonstrated that CPR was higher when less than 100 million PBMCs/mL were administered in utero, suggesting that although the quantity of cells inseminated is not homogeneous, intrauterine administration of PBMC does appear to be an effective treatment for patients suffering from RIF [17].


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