Chorionic Gonadotropin β-Gene Variants Are Associated with Recurrent Miscarriage in Two European Populations

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Abstract

Context:

The incidence of recurrent miscarriage (RM) (≥3 consecutive pregnancy losses) is estimated as 1-2% in fertile couples. Familial clustering of RM has suggested the contribution of a genetic component.

Objective:

A low level of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) in maternal serum during the first trimester of the pregnancy is a clinically accepted risk factor for miscarriage. We sought to study whether variation in chorionic gonadotropin β-subunit genes (CGBs) expressed in placenta may contribute to the risk of RM.

Design:

Resequencing of CGB5 and CGB8, the two most actively transcribed loci of the four HCG β-duplicate genes, was performed.

Setting:

A case-control study involving two sample sets, from Estonia (n = 194) and Finland (n = 185), was performed.

Patients:

RM patients (n = 184) and fertile controls (n = 195) participated in the study.

Results:

From 71 identified variants in CGB5 and CGB8, 48 polymorphisms were novel. Significant protective effect was associated with two single nucleotide polymorphisms located at identical positions in intron 2 in both CGB5 [P = 0.007; odds ratio (OR) = 0.53] and CGB8 (P = 0.042; OR = 0.15), and with four CGB5 promoter variants (P < 0.03; OR = 0.54-0.58). The carriers of minor alleles had a reduced risk of RM. The haplotype structure of the CGB8 promoter was consistent with balancing selection; a rare mutation in CGB8 initiator element was detected only among patients (n = 3). In addition, three rare nonsynonymous substitutions were identified among RM cases as possible variants increasing the risk of recurrent pregnancy loss.

Conclusion:

The findings encourage studying the functional effect of the identified variants on CGB expression and HCG hormone activity to elucidate further the role of CGB variation in RM.

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