Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are essential in tolerizing the maternal immune system toward the semi-allogeneic embryo. In this systematic review, we evaluated the association of levels and function of Tregs in peripheral blood and decidua with recurrent miscarriage (RM), defined as two unexplained miscarriages. We included 18 studies. Ten studies showed a significantly decreased level of Tregs in peripheral blood of non-pregnant women with RM, compared to controls (p < 0.05). In pregnant women with RM, levels of Tregs in the peripheral blood were significantly lower compared to control groups (p = 0.0004), as shown in nine studies. Moreover, seven studies described a decrease of Treg levels in the placenta of pregnant women with RM (p < 0.0001) compared to controls. Accordingly, the median of the relative changes (MRC) between cases and controls in the non-pregnant group (peripheral blood), and the two pregnant groups (peripheral blood and decidua) were -0.18 (-0.27-0), -0.26 (−0.35 to −0.17), and -0.52 (0.63--0.31), respectively. In addition to the assessment of Tregs by phenotype, six out of the 18 included studies investigated the functionality of these cells. These studies showed a lower inhibitory effect of Tregs cells on the proliferation of effector T cells of women with RM compared to fertile women. Also, the expression of IL-10 and TGF-beta was diminished. This systematic review shows that Treg levels and their function are significantly decreased in peripheral blood and decidua of pregnant and non-pregnant women with RM. This underlines the hypothesis that Tregs play a role in the pathogenesis of RM.

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Keywords CD4+CD25+, FoxP3, Recurrent miscarriage, Regulatory T cells, Systematic review
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Series VSNU Open Access deal
Journal Journal of Reproductive Immunology
Note Corresponding author affiliated with LUMC
Keller, C.C. (Caroline C.), Eikmans, M, van der Hoorn, M.-L.P. (Marie-Louise P.), & Lashley, L.E.E.L.O. (Lisa E.E.L.O.). (2020). Recurrent miscarriages and the association with regulatory T cells; A systematic review. Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 139. doi:10.1016/j.jri.2020.103105