In vitro fertilization-embryo transfer (IVF-ET) can be used by infertile couples to assist with reproduction; however, failure of the embryo to implant into the endometrial lining results in failure of the IVF treatment. The present study investigated the expression of chemokine receptor 7 (CCR7)(lo) programmed death-1(PD-1)(hi) chemokine receptor type 5 (CXCR5)+ cluster of differentiation 4 (CD4)+ T cells and associated factors in patients with repeated implantation failure (RIF). A total of 30 females with RIF and 30 healthy females were enrolled in the current study. Flow cytometry was used to detect the proportion of CCR7(lo)PD-1(hi) CXCR5+ CD4+ T cells in the peripheral blood. Cytokine bead arrays were performed to detect the levels of interleukin (IL)-6, -4 and -2 in the serum. ELISAs were used to detect the level of IL-21 in the serum. Quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction analysis and immunohistochemistry were used to investigate the expression of B-cell lymphoma 6 (Bcl-6), chemokine receptor type 5 (CXCR5) and IL-21 in the endometrium. The results revealed that the percentage of CCR7(lo)PD-1(hi) CXCR5+ CD4+ T cells was increased in the RIF group compared with the control group during the mid luteal phase. The mRNA and protein levels of Bcl-6, IL-21 and CXCR5 in the endometrium and the concentrations of IL-21 and IL-6 in the serum were significantly increased in the RIF group; however, no significant difference was observed between the two groups in regards to the expression of IL-4 and IL-2. Furthermore, a significant positive correlation was identified between the percentage of CCR7(lo)PD-1(hi) CXCR5+ CD4+ T cells and IL-21 and IL-6 levels. The expression of IL-21 also had a positive correlation with Bcl-6 and CXCR5 expression in the RIF group. These results suggest that increased levels of CCR7(lo)PD-1(hi) CXCR5+ CD4+ T cells and associated factors contribute to RIF and could therefore be a potential therapeutic target.
Keywords: Bcl-6; CCR7(lo)PD-1(hi) CXCR5+ CD4+ T cell; CXCR5; follicular helper T cell; interleukin 21; repeated implantation failure.