Autoimmune thyroiditis is the most common autoimmune disease, affecting 5-10% of women of childbearing age. Anti-thyroid autoantibody positivity and hypothyroidism can separately lead to infertility and recurrent miscarriages. Our working group is investigating the role of immunological and hormonal abnormalities in autoimmune thyroiditis in infertility. Our hypothesis is that autoantibody positivity is only the tip of the iceberg, a general immune dysregulation may be responsible for both autoimmune disease and reproductive dysfunction. In order to elucidate the pathological factors underlying infertility, we plan to investigate the function of T, B and NK cells, the B7 protein family and abnormalities of PD-1, PD-2 receptors and their ligands.
The reproductive immunological significance of gamma/delta T cells is poorly understood and we will investigate the role of gamma/delta T cells in all three trimesters of healthy pregnancy. We will investigate the phenotype and function of gamma/delta T cells in the decidua of the pregnant uterus and in the peripheral blood in the establishment and maintenance of maternal immune tolerance. Our experiments are aimed at understanding the mechanisms of antigen recognition, gamma/delta T cell activation and regulation. We intend to investigate the identified correlations and functions in pathological pregnancies of different origins, in successful and unsuccessful assisted reproduction and in endocrine disorders of thyroid origin.