School of Medicine

Recurrent miscarriage in the placental bed

Recurrent miscarriage is the loss of three or more consecutive pregnancies prior to 14 weeks of gestation. This devastating condition affects approximately 1% of women but unfortunately in most cases the causes of recurrent miscarriage are unknown. We have collected a bank of placental bed biopsies in order to investigate potential markers that could explain why recurrent miscarriages occur. The placental bed is the uterine (maternal) side of the materno-fetal interface into which fetal cells of the placenta grow to attach the placenta to the uterus. So far we have examined the expression of approximately 40 potential pathological markers in the placental bed biopsies. These markers include factors such as maternal immune cells which might attack the placenta, antiphospholipid antibodies, major histocompatibility antigens (transplantation markers) and cannabinoid regulating enzymes. We are continuing to examine additional markers.


Photomicrograph of an immunohistochemistry slide of the placental bed show a lymphocyte aggregate. Tcells are stained red, nuclei are stained blue. Bar =50um. (From Askelund et al. 2004)

Funding for this work was provided by:

  • Health Research Council of New Zealand
  • The Evelyn Bond Trust (ADHB)
  • The New Zealand Lotteries Board (Health)
  • The University of Auckland Staff Research Fund