Estrogen related receptor β (Esrrb) is a member of the orphan nuclear receptors and may regulate the expression of pluripotency-related genes, such as Oct4 and Nanog. Therefore, in the present study, we have developed a method for delivering exogenous ESRRB recombinant protein into embryos by using cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) conjugation and have analyzed their effect on embryonic development.
Mouse oocytes and embryos were obtained from superovulated mice. The expression of Oct4 mRNA and the cell number of inner cell mass (ICM) in the in vitro-derived and in vivo-derived blastocysts were first analyzed by real time-reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and differential staining. Then 8-cell embryos were cultured in KSOM media with or without 2 µg/mL CPP-ESRRB protein for 24 to 48 hours, followed by checking their integration into embryos during in vitro culture by Western blot and immunocytochemistry.
Expression of Oct4 and the cell number of ICM were lower in the in vitro-derived blastocysts than in the in vivo-derived ones (p<0.05). In the blastocysts derived from the CPP-ESRRB-treated group, expression of Oct4 was greater than in the non-treated groups (p<0.05). Although no difference in embryonic development was observed between the treated and non-treated groups, the cell number of ICM was greater in the CPP-ESRRB-treated group.
Treatment of CPP-ESRRB during cultivation could increase embryos' expression of Oct4 and the formation rate of the ICM in the blastocyst. Additionally, an exogenous delivery system of CPP-conjugated protein would be a useful tool for improving embryo culture systems.
Estrogen-related receptor β; Cell-penetrating peptide; Oct4; Mouse embryo; In vitro culture
Combined oral contraceptives (COCs) have some adverse effects on the serum lipid profile. Because hyperlipidemia is one of the risk factors in cardiovascular diseases, lipid abnormalities should be evaluated in women consuming COCs. Vitamins E and C are known to have beneficial effects on serum lipid profiles. Therefore, in this study, we evaluated the effects of vitamins E and C on serum lipids in women using COCs.
The study compared changes in lipid parameters with and without vitamin therapy in women consuming COCs compared to those of a control group (40 non-contraceptive users or NCU) for 4 weeks. Total cholesterol and triglyceride, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels along with HDL/LDL ratios were measured for all participants.
COC users experienced significantly higher increases in the levels of triglycerides and LDL than non-users (p<0.05). However, no significant differences were noted in the total cholesterol and HDL levels. In the treated COC group receiving vitamins E and C, the HDL level and the HDL/LDL ratio increased and the LDL and triglycerides levels decreased significantly compared with those of the other groups.
The results of our study indicate that supplementation with antioxidant vitamins E and C restores a normal lipid profile in COC users.
Contraceptive; Vitamins; Hyperlipidemias
To investigate the association of individual follicular fluid (FF) leptin and adiponectin levels with the quality of the corresponding oocyte and embryo.
We prospectively enrolled 67 women who underwent controlled ovarian hyperstimulation with 89 FF samples. FF and the corresponding oocyte was obtained from a single dominant preovulatory follicle at the time of oocyte retrieval. Concentrations of leptin and adiponectin were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in an individual follicle. The oocyte quality, fertilization rate, and corresponding embryo development were assessed.
The FF level of leptin was significantly associated with body mass index (r=0.334, p<0.01). The FF adiponectin level was significantly higher in the normal fertilization group than the abnormal fertilization group (p=0.009) in the non-obese women. A lower FF leptin level was associated with a trend toward mature oocytes, normal fertilization, and good embryo quality, although these relationships were not statistically significant. The leptin:adiponectin ratio of FF did not differ significantly according to oocyte and embryo quality. The quality of the oocyte and embryo was not associated with the FF leptin level tertile. However, the normal fertilization rate was positively associated with FF adiponectin level tertile. There was a trend towards improved oocytes and normal fertilization rates with the lowest tertile of the FF leptin:adiponectin ratio, but this difference was not statistically significant.
Our results suggest that a high FF adiponectin concentration could be a predictor of normal fertilization. However, the FF leptin concentration and leptin:adiponectin ratio is not significantly related to oocyte maturity and corresponding embryo development.
Follicular fluid; Leptin; Adiponectin; Oocyte; Fertilization; Embryo
To investigate the causes of amenorrhea in Korean women.
Medical records from 1,212 women with amenorrhea who visited the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Asan Medical Center, between January 1989 and December 2011 were retrospectively reviewed. Amenorrhea was categorized as either primary or secondary.
Primary amenorrhea was identified in 132 of the patients (10.9%) and secondary amenorrhea in 1,080 (89.1%). The most frequent causes of primary amenorrhea were gonadal dysgenesis (28.0%, 37/132); Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome (20.0%, 27/132); and constitutional delay and androgen insensitivity syndrome (8.3%, 11/132; 8.3%, 11/132, respectively). Secondary amenorrhea was due to polycystic ovary syndrome (48.4%, 523/1,080); premature ovarian insufficiency (14.0%, 151/1,080); and nutrition-related hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (8.3%, 90/1,080).
In this retrospective study, gonadal dysgenesis was the most common cause of primary amenorrhea and polycystic ovary syndrome was the most common cause of secondary amenorrhea in Korean women.
Amenorrhea; Gonadal dysgenesis; Polycystic ovary syndrome; Causes
To estimate the failure rate of medical treatment and to identify variables associated with treatment failure in patients with tubal pregnancy and an initial serum level of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) over 10,000 IU/L.
The inclusion criteria were tubal pregnancy diagnosed using ultrasonography, primary treatment of intramuscular methotrexate injection at one of the four institutions between January 2003 and December 2011, a serum HCG level within two days before treatment>10,000 IU/L, and follow-up data to determine treatment success or failure. Exclusion criteria were other primary treatments besides intramuscular methotrexate injection. The clinicopathologic data of 36 patients were collected and analyzed.
Medical treatment failed and surgery was performed in 19 (53%) patients. In univariable analysis, age, parity, and size of the gestational sac were associated with treatment failure, but none of the variables were associated with treatment failure in multivariable analysis. The failure rate in the subgroup with age<33 years and size of gestational sac≥1.1 cm was significantly higher than those of the other subgroups (82% vs. 41% [mean of the other subgroups], respectively).
Patients with a serum HCG level>10,000 IU/L who received medical treatment had a high failure rate. Among them, patients aged<33 years and with a gestational sac≥1.1 cm had an extremely high failure rate.
Tubal pregnancy; Methotrexate; Chorionic gonadotropin; Treatment failure
The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficiency of the intracytoplasmic morphologically selected sperm injection (IMSI) technique compared with conventional ICSI and previous ICSI attempts in oligo-astheno-teratozoospermia (OAT) patients.
The sperms were selected under high magnification (6,600×) and used to induce fertilization in previous ICSI patients by IMSI. These results were compared with previous conventional ICSI cycles in patients with OAT infertility.
These results demonstrated no significant difference in the fertilization rate between IMSI and previous ICSI cycles (67.7% vs. 65.0%). However, the pregnancy and implantation rates with IMSI were significantly higher than those of the ICSI cycles (33.3% vs. 12.5% and 14.6% vs. 5.4%, respectively; p<0.05). The miscarriage rate among pregnant patients (18.2% vs. 37.5%) showed no statistically significant difference between groups.
Compared to conventional ICSI, this study found that IMSI increased the IVF-ET success rates in patients with OAT.
High magnification; Intracytoplasmic sperm injection; Intracytoplasmic morphologically selected sperm injection; Oligo-astheno-teratozoospermia
Oocyte in vitro maturation (IVM) is an assisted reproductive technology in which oocytes are retrieved from the antral follicles of unstimulated or minimally stimulated ovaries. IVM of human oocytes has emerged as a promising procedure. This new technology has advantages over controlled ovarian stimulation such as reduction of costs, simplicity, and elimination of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. By elimination or reduction of gonadotropin stimulation, IVM offers eligible infertile couples a safe and convenient form of treatment, and IVM outcomes are currently comparable in safety and efficacy to those of conventional in vitro fertilization. IVM has been applied mainly in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome or ultrasound-only polycystic ovaries, but with time, the indications for IVM have expanded to other uncommon situations such as fertility preservation, as well as to normal responders. In this review, the current clinical experiences with IVM will be described.
In vitro maturation; Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome; Infertility
To compare the mouse oocyte vitrification outcomes of the CryoLogic vitrification method (CVM) and the conventional open method using a Cryotop. Two CVM methods (original CVM and modified CVM) were tested.
Mature oocytes obtained from female BDF-1 mice were vitrified by two-step exposure to equilibrium and vitrification solutions. Three vitrification protocols were tested on three groups: the CVM-kit, modified CVM, and Cryotop groups. After exposure to the two solutions, the oocytes were vitrified. After warming, the oocytes were fertilized in vitro, and the embryo development was assessed. Blastomeres positive for caspase were counted using an in situ assay kit. The spindle morphology and chromosome configurations of warmed vitrified oocytes were also assessed.
The modified CVM and Cryotop groups showed similar developmental capacities, and similar proportions of cells with intact spindles and chromosome configurations. The modified CVM protocol was superior to the original CVM protocol for developmental competence and intact spindle preservation. However, the CVM group showed a relatively higher number of apoptotic cells in blastocysts.
Closed vitrification using the modified CVM protocol may be used as an alternative to the conventional open method, but strategies to decrease apoptosis in the blastomere need to be investigated.
Vitrification; Closed method; Open method; Oocyte; Spindle
Stress is known to be an inhibitor of the reproductive hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. However, the neural and molecular connections between stress and reproduction are not yet understood. It is well established that in both humans and rodents, kisspeptin (encoded by the kiss1 gene) is a strong stimulator of the HPG axis. In the present study we hypothesized that endocannabinoids, an important neuromodulatory system in the brain, can act on the HPG axis at the level of kiss1 expression to inhibit reproductive function under stress.
Adult male Wistar rats were unilaterally implanted with an intracerebroventricular cannula. Afterwards, the animals were exposed to immobilization stress, with or without the presence of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonist AM251 (1 µg/rat). Blood samples were collected through a retro-orbital plexus puncture before and after stress. Five hours after the stress, brain tissue was collected for reverse transcriptase-quantitative polymerase chain reaction measurements of kiss1 mRNA.
Immobilization stress (1 hour) resulted in a decrease in the serum luteinizing hormone concentration. Additionally, kiss1 gene expression was decreased in key hypothalamic nuclei that regulate gonadotrophin secretion, the medial preoptic area (mPOA), and to some extent the arcuate nucleus (ARC). A single central administration of AM251 was effective in blocking these inhibitory responses.
These findings suggest that endocannabinoids mediate, at least in part, immobilization stress-induced inhibition of the reproductive system. Our data suggest that the connection between immobilization stress and the HPG axis is kiss1 expression in the mPOA rather than the ARC.
Cannabinoids; Immobilization; Kisspeptins; Reproduction; Rats
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is an assisted reproductive technique for couples carrying genetic risks. Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease is the most common hereditary neuropathy, with a prevalence rate of 1/2,500. In this study, we report on our experience with PGD cycles performed for CMT types 1A and 2F.
Before clinical PGD, we assessed the amplification rate and allele drop-out (ADO) rate of multiplex fluorescent polymerase chain reaction (PCR) followed by fragment analysis or sequencing using single lymphocytes. We performed six cycles of PGD for CMT1A and one cycle for CMT2F.
Two duplex and two triplex protocols were developed according to the available markers for each CMT1A couple. Depending on the PCR protocols, the amplification rates and ADO rates ranged from 90.0% to 98.3% and 0.0% to 11.1%, respectively. For CMT2F, the amplification rates and ADO rates were 93.3% and 4.8%, respectively. In case of CMT1A, 60 out of 63 embryos (95.2%) were diagnosed and 13 out of 21 unaffected embryos were transferred in five cycles. Two pregnancies were achieved and three babies were delivered without any complications. In the case of CMT2F, a total of eight embryos were analyzed and diagnosed. Seven embryos were diagnosed as unaffected and four embryos were transferred, resulting in a twin pregnancy. Two healthy babies were delivered.
This is the first report of successful pregnancy and delivery after specific PGD for CMT disease in Korea. Our PGD procedure could provide healthy babies to couples with a high risk of transmitting genetic diseases.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease; Preimplantation genetic diagnosis; Allele drop-out; Polymorphic marker
To measure Irish opinion on a range of assisted human reproduction (AHR) treatments.
A nationally representative sample of Irish adults (n=1,003) were anonymously sampled by telephone survey.
Most participants (77%) agreed that any fertility services offered internationally should also be available in Ireland, although only a small minority of the general Irish population had personal familiarity with AHR or infertility. This sample finds substantial agreement (63%) that the Government of Ireland should introduce legislation covering AHR. The range of support for gamete donation in Ireland ranged from 53% to 83%, depending on how donor privacy and disclosure policies are presented. For example, donation where the donor agrees to be contacted by the child born following donation, and anonymous donation where donor privacy is completely protected by law were supported by 68% and 66%, respectively. The least popular (53%) donor gamete treatment type appeared to be donation where the donor consents to be involved in the future life of any child born as a result of donor fertility treatment. Respondents in social class ABC1 (58%), age 18 to 24 (62%), age 25 to 34 (60%), or without children (61%) were more likely to favour this donor treatment policy in our sample.
This is the first nationwide assessment of Irish public opinion on the advanced reproductive technologies since 2005. Access to a wide range of AHR treatment was supported by all subgroups studied. Public opinion concerning specific types of AHR treatment varied, yet general support for the need for national AHR legislation was reported by 63% of this national sample. Contemporary views on AHR remain largely consistent with the Commission for Assisted Human Reproduction recommendations from 2005, although further research is needed to clarify exactly how popular opinion on these issues has changed. It appears that legislation allowing for the full range of donation options (and not mandating disclosure of donor identity at a stipulated age) would better align with current Irish public opinion.
Assisted fertility; Legislation; Public policy; In vitro fertilization; Ireland
Klinefelter syndrome is the most common genetic form of male hypogonadism, but the phenotype becomes evident only after puberty. It is characterized by infertility, small testes, sparse body and facial hair, increased body weight, gynecomastia, increased LH and FSH, and a low level of testosterone. Early recognition and treatment of Klinefelter syndrome can significantly improve the patient's quality of life and prevent serious consequences. Here, we report an infertile man with a rare variant of Klinefelter syndrome with a 47, XY, i(X)(q10) karyotype.
Klinefelter syndrome; Isochromsomes; Androgens
To evaluate correlations between serum anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) levels, phenotypes of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), obesity, and metabolic parameters in patients with PCOS.
A total of 175 patients with PCOS were diagnosed according to the Rotterdam Consensus were included. Exclusion criteria were age over 40, FSH>25 mIU/mL, and 17a-OHP>1.5 ng/mL. The Phenotypes of PCOS were divided into a severe form (oligo-anovulation, ANOV/hyperandrogenism/polycystic ovary morphology [PCOM]; n=59) and a mild form without HA (ANOV/PCOM, n=105). The serum AMH levels were classified into 3 groups (<5 vs. 5-10 vs. >10 ng/mL). Obesity was defined as body mass index (BMI) ≥25 kg/m2 (n=34).
The mean age was 25.9±5.7 year and mean AMH level was 10.1±5.4 ng/mL. The BMI (kg/m2) was higher in group 1 (24.2±6.3) than in group 2 (21.9±4.3, p=0.046) or group 3 (21.6±3.3, p=0.019). There was no difference among the three groups in age, menstrual interval, antral follicle counts, androgens, or other metabolic parameters. The obesity group showed significantly lower AMH (7.7±3.9 ng/mL vs. 10.7±5.6 ng/mL), p=0.004) and low-density lipoprotein levels (93.1±21.2 mg/dL vs. 107.5±39.3 mg/dL, p=0.031), and showed higher total T (0.74±0.59 ng/mL vs. 0.47±0.36 ng/mL, p=0.001), free T (2.01±1.9 vs. 1.04±0.8 pg/mL, p=0.0001), and free androgen index (6.2±7.9 vs. 3.5±3.0, p=0.003). After controlling for age factors and BMI, the serum AMH levles did not show any significant correlations with other hormonal or metabolic parmeters.
For PCOS patients under the age 40, serum AMH is not negatively correlated with age. High serum AMH levels can not predict the phenotype of PCOS and metabolic disturbances in PCOS patients in the non-obese group. Further study might be needed to define the relation more clearly.
Polycystic ovary syndrome; Anti-Mullerian hormone; Hyperandrogenism; Obesity; Age
To evaluate the effect of the addition of estradiol to luteal progesterone supplementation in GnRH antagonist cycles for infertile patients undergoing IVF/ICSI.
One hundred and ten infertile patients, aged 28 to 39 years, were recruited for this prospective randomized study. They were randomly assigned to receive vaginal progesterone gel (Crinone) along with 4 mg estradiol valerate (group 1, n=55) or only Crinone (group 2, n=55) for luteal support. A GnRH antagonist multiple dose protocol using recombinant human FSH was used for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) in all of the subjects. The COS results and pregnancy outcomes of the two groups were compared.
Group 1 and 2 were comparable with respect to the patient characteristics. The COS and IVF results were also comparable between the two groups. There were no differences in the clinical pregnancy rate (PR) and multiple PR between the two groups. However, the embryo implantation rate were significantly higher in group 1 than that in group 2 (22.2% vs. 13.3%, p=0.035). The incidence of luteal vaginal bleeding (LVB) was significantly lower in group 1 (7.4% vs. 27.8%, p=0.010).
The addition of estradiol to luteal progesterone supplementation in GnRH antagonist cycles reduces the incidence of LVB and increases the embryo implantation rate in infertile patients undergoing IVF/ICSI.
Luteal progesterone supplementation; Gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonist; Addition of estradiol; In vitro fertilization; Intracytoplasmic sperm injection
The majority of embryo transfers (ETs) to date have been performed on day 3 to reduce the potential risk of developmental arrest of in vitro cultured embryos before ET. Development of sequential media has significantly improved culture conditions and allowed blastocyst transfer on day 5. While day 5 ET provides higher clinical pregnancy outcomes with reduced risks of multiple pregnancies, it still has potential risks of developmental arrest of IVF embryos. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical outcomes of day 4 ETs and compare the efficacy of day 4 ET with day 5 ET.
From 2006 to 2009, a total of 747 fresh IVF-ET cycles were retrospectively analyzed (day 4, n=440 or and day 5, n=307). The cycles with any genetic factors were excluded. The rates of matured oocytes, fertilization, good embryos, and clinical pregnancy of the two groups were compared. The chi-square test and t-test were used for statistical analysis.
There were no significant differences between the two groups with respect to the mean age of the females and rates of matured oocytes. The pregnancy outcomes of day 4 ET (40.7%) were similar to those of day 5 ET (44.6%). The implantation rate of day 5 ET (24.2%) was significantly higher than that of day 4 ET (18.4%) (p=0.003).
Day 4 ET can be chosen to avoid ET cancellation in day 5 ET resulting from suboptimal circumstances in the IVF laboratory, but the decremented quality of embryos for transfer and the decreased pregnancy rate must be taken into consideration.
Pregnancy outcome; Embryo transfer; Blastocyst; Embryo selection; Embryonic grading; Embryo culture; Embryo-uterine synchrony
Letrozole and estradiol valerate are used to treat some hormonally-responsive symptoms and also in modeling of the polycystic ovary syndrome. However, the stereological analysis of the ovary has received less attention. Estimation of the whole ovary volume using the Cavalieri method can be applied in any orientation desired, but estimation of the mean volume of the oocytes requires isotropic uniform random sectioning. Here, a combined method was developed for estimating the parameters. To our knowledge, no comparison has been made of the effects of letrozole and estradiol on the ovary.
Sixty rats were divided into 4 groups receiving estradiol (4 mg/kg), olive oil, letrozole (1 mg/kg), or normal saline. After 21 days, their ovaries were studied.
Relative to the control group, the total volume of the ovary and the cortex increased in the letrozole-treated and estradiol-treated rats. In addition, the number of the preantral, antral, and granulosa cells decreased by 43% to 56% in the letrozole- and estradiol-treated rats. On average, a 19% increase was observed in the atretic oocytes of the letrozole-treated and estradiol-treated rats, but the mean oocyte volume decreased by 29% to 44% in letrozole- and estradiol-treated rats. Furthermore, the letrozole-treated rats showed a 5-fold and 7-fold increase in the volume of the cysts and corpus luteum, respectively. A 3-fold increase was found in the volume of both the cysts and corpus luteum in the estradiol group.
The structural changes of the ovary were most pronounced in the letrozole-treated animals.
Histology; Oocyte, Ovary; Rats
To assess the effectiveness of emergency single-dose levonorgestrel contraception in preventing unintended pregnancies among woman who visited the emergency department (ED) due to sexual assault (SA).
We conducted a retrospective chart review in a university hospital in South Korea. Cases from November 10, 2006 to November 9, 2009 were enrolled. Information from the initial visit to the ED and subsequent follow-up visits to the gynecology outpatient clinic was collected.
In total, 1,179 women visited the ED due to SA. Among them, 416 patients had a gynecological examination and 302 patients who received emergency contraception (EC) (1.5 mg single-dose levonorgestrel) at the ED due to SA were enrolled. Ten patients did not return for follow-up examinations. In follow-up visits at the outpatient clinic, two pregnancies were confirmed, which showed the failure rate of the EC to be 0.68%.
Single-dose levonorgestrel EC is extremely effective at preventing pregnancy among victims of SA.
Sexual assault; Emergency contraception; Levonorgestrel
Homeobox genes play essential roles in embryonic development and reproduction. Recently, a large cluster of homeobox genes, reproductive homeobox genes on the X chromosome (Rhox) genes, was discovered as three gene clusters, α, β, and γ in mice. It was found that Rhox genes were selectively expressed in reproduction-associated tissues, such as those of the testes, epididymis, ovaries, and placenta. Hence, it was proposed that Rhox genes are important for regulating various reproductive features, especially gametogenesis in male as well as in female mammals. It was first determined that 12 Rhox genes are clustered into α (Rhox1-4), β (Rhox5-9), and γ (Rhox10-12) subclusters, and recently Rhox13 has also been found. At present, 33 Rhox genes have been identified in the mouse genome, 11 in the rat, and three in the human. Rhox genes are also responsible for embryonic development, with considerable amounts of Rhox expression in trophoblasts, placenta tissue, embryonic stem cells, and primordial germ cells. In this article we summarized the current understanding of Rhox family genes involved in reproduction and embryonic development and elucidated a previously unreported cell-specific expression in ovarian cells.
Embryonic development; Gametogenesis; Homeobox gene; Reproduction; Rhox; Stem cells
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of insulin sensitizing agents on hormonal and metabolic parameters as well as menstrual patterns in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
One hundred and twenty-three patients with PCOS were included. Metformin was administered to patients at 1,500 mg or 1,700 mg daily for 3 months. If the patients had no improvement of the menstrual cycle or metformin-related adverse effects developed, the patients changed medication to a daily dose of either 15 mg pioglitazone or up to 45 mg. Then resumption of a regular menstrual cycle or recovery of ovulation was evaluated. Hormonal and metabolic profiles were compared between the response and non-response group to insulin sensitizing agents.
One hundred and five patients with PCOS were treated with metformin for 3 months. Forty-eight patients (45.7%) showed improvement of menstrual cycle regularity after 3 months of metformin use, whereas 57 patients (54.3%) had no change. The mean free testosterone measured after 3 months of treatment was significantly lower in metformin responders than in non-responders. The other parameters did not differ between the groups. Of the 23 patients who used pioglitazone for 3 to 6 months, 19 patients (82.6%) showed improvement in their menstrual cycles.
Metformin treatment seems to be effective for the improvement of menstrual cyclicity irrespective of insulin resistance in women with PCOS. When metformin related adverse effect occurred, pioglitazone would be effective for aiding the resumption of the menstrual cycle.
Polycystic ovary syndrome; Metformin; Pioglitazone