Infertility, Our Infertility story

Reproductive Immunophenotype (sounds riveting, right?)

April 19, 2011

So, this one’s going to be a snooze-fest.  You are forewarned. For the scientifically-inclined, maybe this is fun stuff for you.

I got the specific results of my immune testing in the mail today.  Dr. S had told me over the phone that I have activated T cells.  Well, more specifically, my immunophenotype testing showed that I have high levels of:

  • CD8+ (cytotoxic T lymphocytes) – level is 52 (normal is 19-48)
  • CD5+ (B cells) – level is 13 (normal is 0-8)

So, my problem is an autoimmune problem.  It’s interesting that immune problems are genetically related.  Many people who have immune issues will find that they exist in their family.  For example, my grandmother has a thyroid problem and my dad has plantar fasciitis.  Also, I have had my own autoimmune issues in the past with HPV, which caused cervical dsyplasia.

Lymphocytes, particularly B-cells, T-cells (helper and suppressor) and killer (NK) cells have been the focus of intense research interest to the discipline of reproductive immunology. Immunophenotype refers to the relative amounts of T, B and NK cells in the bloodstream. (From RIA lab.)

CD8+ (cytotoxic T lymphocytes)

These are also called activated T cell or killer T cells.  CD8 T cells efficiently eliminate infected and abnormal cells.  In the case of repeat pregnancy loss, they become overly aggressive and go after the wrong targets.

CD5+ (B cells)

B cells may be of two subtypes known as B-1 and B-2 cells. When we examine a second surface-displayed marker on CD19 expressing cells known as CD5, the cells are classified at B-1 B cells. They represent a class of B cells that is involved in autoimmune disorders (conditions where the body mounts an immune response against a body tissue). Women with elevations of these cells may be at risk for thyroiditis and the premature menopause. (From


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  • Jay

    Huh. I actually am starting a project studying human B1 cells, and though the classification is true for mice, CD5 is not a good marker for human B1 cells (landmark paper JUST published). And B1 cells, while they are self reactive, are not really involved in autoimmune disease except in maybe a couple of rare conditions. Its really complicated stuff.

    Anyway, that was an academic digression. The question is, what can you do about this? Have you been on steroids in early pregnancy ever? That might be enough to fix this, IF it is really the problem. I would not be convinced it is, nor woulkd I rule it out—the worst positition to be in:(

    I don’t think anybody can definitively make the case for a slightly heightened immune milieu (which is what you have) and pregnancy loss 🙁

    People can definitely make a more convincing case for auto antibodies and pregnancy loss though- you’ve had anti-cardiolipin and phospholipid and ds DNA, thyroid etc checked?

  • Interesting stuff. Glad you’re doing a bunch of research and figuring it out. The amazing thing to me is that Intralipids help with this – when you think about what IL is – a bunch of fat and nutrition – seems bizarre. But it’s supposed to help! Still bizarre…

  • Thanks for posting this. It was very informative. SInce my RE will not test for this, I had to seek a second opinion and am waiting for the results today. I’ll be interested to see what they say and what the next step is. Good luck!