Causes & Treatment

BCL6 – fertility’s hidden puzzle piece?

Annabel Preston in partnership with ReceptivaDx™  |   12 Mar 2023

BCL6. It may sound like a scary and unrelatable scientific term, but it can play a central role on a fertility journey. With unexplained infertility affecting up to 30 per cent of couples, the groundbreaking  ReceptivaDx™ test uses this protein marker to find out whether endometriosis could be behind a struggle to conceive.

Let’s back up though. What actually is BCL6 and what does its presence mean for our fertility?

What is BCL6?

BCL6 is the nickname for B-cell CLL/lymphoma 6, a protein marker. Its existence points to various activity including cell development, cell death, and inflammation. In terms of the female anatomy, the presence of this protein marker often comes hand in hand with inflammation in the uterine lining.

Let’s dive a bit deeper.

BCL6 is a gene that encodes a tissue-building protein. Basically, the gene helps us to see the protein we are looking for. Known for its role as a lymphoma marker, it has been found to be useful when it comes to investigating unexplained infertility.

BCL6 is induced by inflammation, which in turn can point to endometriosis (a condition where endometrial tissue is found outside the uterus). When the BCL6 protein increases, it can affect the immune environment by raising the levels of various inflammatory proteins. When inflammation appears in and around the uterine lining, it often impacts successful embryo development.

Even more crucially, BCL6 pairs with an ingenious enzyme called SIRT1. This particular enzyme is linked to longevity and is thought to be beneficial. Yet, like BCL6, SIRT1 is a double agent that is linked to endometriosis, promoting progesterone resistance and the rapid reproduction of cells. When SIRT1 and BCL6 join forces, they turn off key pregnancy-related genes.

So, through its strong connections with inflammation, by deducing the presence of BCL6 we are able to work out whether endometriosis could be behind fertility struggles.


When should I test for BCL6?

Unexplained infertility can be an incredibly difficult and confusing diagnosis. And whilst your doctor may have undertaken tests to rule out some of the common causes, BCL6 generally seems to slip under the radar.

If you’ve reached a stage on your fertility journey where you are unsure where to turn, this test could be the piece of the puzzle you are looking for.

Recurrent pregnancy loss

Someone who has experienced recurrent pregnancy losses may be suffering with silent endometriosis, making it difficult to maintain a pregnancy. This tends to be when a woman becomes pregnant but experiences the loss of her baby with no clear or obvious reason.

Implantation failure

Silent endometriosis may also be behind unsuccessful IVF. If you have decided to undertake IVF treatment but have found it to be unsuccessful, it is certainly worth testing for BCL6. The success rate of IVF varies from woman to woman but if it consistently provides negative results, without explanation, silent endometriosis could be a cause.

What does it mean if I have tested positive for BCL6?

When we think of endometriosis, we often associate it with experiences of extreme pain and discomfort. However, up to 25 per cent of women who suffer with endometriosis do so with no symptoms whatsoever. This is often called ‘silent endometriosis’.

Whilst a lack of symptoms can be a positive, it makes diagnosis a lot trickier and can lead to unexplained infertility. Here is where BCL6 really comes into its own. Using  ReceptivaDx™ to test for this protein marker means you can gather a clearer picture for the next stage of your fertility journey.


How does a  ReceptivaDx™ test work?

Getting started

The first step of the testing process is to schedule a visit with your OB-GYN or reproductive specialist. The testing does not actually require a ReceptivaDx specialist to do the testing, making it so much easier for patients to get tested and move forward with their fertility journey. Just make sure your provider has access to  ReceptivaDx™ tests, when booking.

Cycle planning

Cycle planning is a crucial part of testing for BCL6. The biopsy can be taken during a mock or natural cycle but must be during the window of implantation. So, if you are having a natural cycle, it would be 7-10 days after ovulation occurs. With a mock cycle, it would be 5-10 days after the start of progesterone.

Your OB-GYN will be able to guide you on how best to plan your cycle around your BCL6 test.

The biopsy

Once testing is done, the biopsy is sent to the lab. The team at ReceptivaDx™ tests the sample for BCL6 levels and reports back to the patient’s reproductive specialist. They recommend a wait of up to six days before hearing back about any results.

Plan of action

After a patient receives their results, it is time to head back to the doctor to make a plan of action over what to do next. If they test positive for levels of BCL6, they can undergo treatment for their endometriosis.

It is important to remember that testing positive for BCL6 does not automatically mean infertility. Treatment is proving highly successful in helping women across the globe go on to conceive, and have successful pregnancies.

75% of those who suffer with unexplained infertility end up testing positive for BCL6.

Keen to rule out endometriosis? Head to ReceptivaDx™ to book your test. TRB readers can claim $75 off a ReceptivaDx test, use code TRB23 on your test request form.

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