WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Researchers at Yale University found that a woman's bone marrow may determine her ability to start and sustain a pregnancy.
The study published on Thursday in the journal PLOS Biology showed that when an egg is fertilized, stem cells leave the bone marrow and travel via the bloodstream to the uterus, where they help transform the uterine lining for implantation.
If the lining fails to go through this essential transformation, the embryo cannot implant, and the body terminates the pregnancy, according to the study.
In two mouse models with a gene defect that can cause defective endometrium, the researchers found that a bone marrow transplant from a healthy donor could improve fertility.
In mice with only one copy of the defective gene, the transplant saved pregnancies that would otherwise have been lost and increased litter sizes, while in mice with two bad copies of the gene, which were thus entirely infertile, the transplant caused growth and repair of the defective endometria.
The researchers are currently "translating these findings into humans to better understand the role that these bone marrow-derived stem cells play in recurrent implantation failure and recurrent pregnancy loss, two conditions that are unexplained in the majority of women and have no effective treatment," said Reshef Tal, first author of the study.