of the 12th International Symposium for Immunology of Reproduction,
25 – 27 June 2009, “Fr. Joliot-Curie” International home of scientists,
Organized by International Coordination Committee for Immunology of Reproduction (ICCIR) and “Acad. Kiril Bratanov” Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction (IBIR) at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Co-organizers were Bulgarian Society for Reproductive Immunology and Bulgarian Association for Sterility and Reproductive Health.
Presentation of the ICCIR and the Varna Symposia
Dear colleagues and friends,
The 12th International Symposium for Immunology of Reproduction (ISIR) was held 42 years after the First Symposium. In September 1967, Professor Kiril Bratanov, Director of the Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction, and his closest collaborators organized and held the First Symposium for Immunology of Spermatozoa and Fertilization. During this forum at the initiative of Prof. Bratanov the International Coordination Committee for Immunology of Reproduction was founded, registered in Paris and in Sofia, with headquarters at the IBIR. Prof. Bratanov was elected as its first President. Later on, in 1975, during the Third International Symposium for Immunology of Reproduction in Varna, the International Society for Immunology of Reproduction (ISIR) was founded by the proposal of Prof. K. Bratanov and was its first President. At the international meeting on Immunology of Reproduction in Magdeburg, Germany in 1992, the European Society of Immunology of Reproduction and Development was founded with the active participation of Bulgarian scientists. The International Symposia for Immunology of Reproduction, known also as Varna Symposia and ICCIR played a crucial role for the creation and development of a new medical-biological field in science – immunology of reproduction. On this basis and as a result of the activity of Bulgarian scientists, the international scientific community recognized Bulgaria as the place, where immunology of reproduction was born.
Opening the Symposium
The 12th ISIR was attended by 120 researchers and specialists in the field of reproductive biology, immunology and clinicians from 16 countries namely Bulgaria, France, Germany, Austria, UK, Japan, Argentina, USA, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Russia and Ukraine. The Symposium was opened by Prof. Rayna Georgieva, President of ICCIR and the International Scientific Committee.
The participants were honoured by the cordial greeting speeches of Prof. Guy-Andre Voisin (France), doyen of the Symposium and co-founder of ICCIR, of Varna Municipality representative Vice-mayor Assoc. Prof. Christo Bozov, MD and of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Vice-president Prof. Evgenii Nikolov, DSc.
Thirty five plenary lectures, 3 short communications and 25 posters were presented in the 6 scientific sessions. Authors of the plenary lectures were well known scientists working in the field of reproductive immunology: Shinzo Izojima, Koji Koyama and Takao Koike (Japan), Gerard Chaouat (France), Carolyn Coulam, Charles Wira, Roumen Roussev and Raina Fichorova (USA), Victor Chernishov (Ukraine), Hans Donat (Germany), Nelson Fernandez (UK), Maciej Kurpisz (Poland), Jana Peknicova and Vera Jonakova (Czech Republic), Marighoula Varla-Leftherioti (Greece), Natalya Sotnikova and Julia Antsiferova (Russia), Julia Szekeres-Bartho (Hungary), Rayna Georgieva, Margarita Mollova, Maria Ivanova, Stanimir Kyurkchiev and Nina Atanasova (Bulgaria) and others. Numerous young scientists reported their results in 25 poster presentations, thoroughly discussed in two scientific sessions. After reviewing, the abstracts of the presentations were published in a special volume, including also the final programme of the forum.
The basic and clinical data reported at the symposium covered the next topics: Gametes antigenicity and gametes interactions: mechanisms of fertilization, cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis in male and female reproductive systems: cellular and molecular factors and mechanisms of implantation and pregnancy: recurrent pregnancy loss and repeated implantation failures: assisted reproduction: immunoendocrine regulation of reproduction: pathology and treatment of reproductive disorders: stem cells. Some of the interesting results on the mentioned topics included: future problems of sperm immobilizing antibodies in sterile women; contribution of the zona pellucida to fertility and contraception; novel strategies to delineate sperm entities for immunocontraceptive approach; role of heat-shock proteins in mechanisms of spermatogenesis and apoptosis; role of seminal plasma and sperm surface proteins in reproduction; new achievements in proteomics of reproduction; characterization of polypotent stem cells in female endometrium, etc. Of special interest was the data reported on the role of NK cells in abortions and their diagnostic significance for in vitro fertilization and embryotransfer in infertile couples; the role of embryo selection for the successful implantation outcome; the interrelation between antiphospholipid syndrome and complement activation in reproductive problems; early regulators in early abortions; new strategy to understand how HIV infects women; the cytokine profile and TH1/TH2 blood cell ratios in recurrent abortions and multiple implantation failures after in vitro fertilization of women; on immunology of the ovary, etc.
The scientific programme of the symposium did not pass unnoticed by the media – TV, radio and press. The pressconference organized during the symposium provoked great interest and was attended by 25 of the participants and an impressive number of journalists from the mentioned media. Personal interviews were taken from several foreign participants. The interest was provoked by basic issues of unexplained forms of sterility in humans, such as the participation of the male and female factors in sterility and the role of immune mechanisms in its etiology and pathogenesis, the possibilities of immune approaches for prophylaxis and therapy, the success rate of in vitro fertilization and embryotransfer and new data and possibilities for successful implantations, the role of the state for financial assistance of couples applying this biotechnology in the different countries, immunological methods for prophylaxis and treatment of recurrent spontaneous abortions in women, etc.
The evening of 26 June was dedicated to the Official ceremony on awarding the “Kiril Bratanov” medal and the Certificate for contribution to the advancement of Reproductive Immunology and to ICCIR activities. The award was bestowed to the following researchers: Daniel Rukavina (Croatia), Gerard Chaouat (France), Marighoula Varla-Leftherioti (Greece), Julia Szekeres-Bartho (Hungary), Jana Peknicova (Czech Republic), Maciej Kurpisz (Poland), Margarita Mollova, Maria Ivanova, Stanimir Kyurkchiev and Julia Vassileva (Bulgaria).
The 12th Symposium was a focus point for exchange of research and clinical experience and knowledge in immunobiology of reproduction based on the presented results by leading researchers and clinicians from 16 countries. The Symposium offered the possibilities for beneficial scientific contacts between participants, for useful international scientific cooperation and for the increase of opportunities to apply the acquired knowledge in the research work and clinical practice. We can proudly point out that one of the participants at the First Symposium and co-founder of ICCIR (1967) was Prof. Robert Edwards (UK) – the first to achieve fertilization of human embryos in vitro and later on together with gynecologist Dr. Steptoe, the first in the world to obtain an in vitro baby. Today, the problems of assisted reproduction still occupy a significant part of the Symposium scientific programme.
The 12th ISIR was another proof of the importance of biology and immunology of reproduction and their role in world science and clinical practice, as well as of the wide international research contacts and existing collaborations of the “Acad. Kiril Bratanov” Institute of Biology and Immunology of Reproduction and the recognition it enjoys by the scientific community.
Prof. Rayna Georgieva, DSc
President of ICCIR