BACKGROUND: An autoimmune disease is characterized by tissue damage, caused by self-reactivity of different effector mechanisms of the immune system, namely antibodies and T cells. All autoimmune diseases, to some extent, have implications for fertility and obstetrics. Currently, due to available treatments and specialised care for pregnant women with autoimmune disease, the prognosis for both mother and child has improved significantly. However these pregnancies are always high risk. The purpose of this study is to analyse the fertility/pregnancy process of women with systemic and organ-specific autoimmune diseases and assess pathological and treatment implications. METHODS: The authors performed an analysis of the clinical records and relevant obstetric history of five patients representing five distinct autoimmune pathological scenarios, selected from Autoimmune Disease Consultation at the Hospital of Braga, and reviewed the literature. RESULTS: The five clinical cases are the following: Case 1-28 years old with systemic lupus erythematosus, and clinical remission of the disease, under medication with hydroxychloroquine, prednisolone and acetylsalicylic acid, with incomplete miscarriage at 7 weeks of gestation without signs of thrombosis. Case 2-44 years old with history of two late miscarriages, a single preterm delivery (33 weeks) and multiple thrombotic events over the years, was diagnosed with antiphospholipid syndrome after acute myocardial infarction. Case 3-31 years old with polymyositis, treated with azathioprine for 3 years with complete remission of the disease, took the informed decision to get pregnant after medical consultation and full weaning from azathioprine, and gave birth to a healthy term new-born. Case 4-38 years old pregnant woman developed Behcet's syndrome during the final 15 weeks of gestation and with disease exacerbation after delivery. Case 5-36 years old with autoimmune thyroiditis diagnosed during her first pregnancy, with difficult control over the thyroid function over the years and first trimester miscarriage, suffered a second miscarriage despite clinical stability and antibody regression. CONCLUSIONS: As described in literature, the authors found a strong association between autoimmune disease and obstetric complications, especially with systemic lupus erythematosus, antiphospholipid syndrome and autoimmune thyroiditis.
Front Immunol. 2015 May 7;6:205. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2015.00205. eCollection 2015.
Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) comprises of a wide spectrum of clinical and obstetric manifestations linked to the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL). APS was described in the context of lupus, and later as an isolated syndrome or primary APS. The presence of aPL, especially the lupus anticoagulant test, is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as fetal death, recurrent early miscarriages, pre-eclampsia, and placental insufficiency, but does not seem to influence infertility. High quality scientific data to support these associations, however, are lacking, and controversies arise about the definition of positive aPL (low vs medium-high titers) or even the definition of the adverse events. This review discusses APS classification criteria and the current debate about it.
KEYWORDS: antiphospholipid antibodies; antiphospholipid syndrome; fetal death; recurrent early miscarriage