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05-12-2010 | Gynaecology | Article

Follicular fluid DHEA linked to poor IVF outcomes


Free abstract

MedWire News: Elevated levels of the natural steroid hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in the follicular fluid of women undergoing IVF treatment could predict negative outcomes such as fewer numbers of viable embryos for transfer, show study results.

These negative associations with DHEA "could be attributed in part to its role as a precursor of steroid production, or they could be due to some unknown direct effect," say Liyun Li and colleagues from Columbia University Medical Center in New York, USA.

The team analyzed fluid from 62 dominant follicles containing oocyte-corona-cumulus complexes from 42 women undergoing IVF and/or intracytoplasmic sperm injection. DHEA levels were measured using an immunoassay.

Mean levels of of DHEA were 10.72 ng/ml on the day of ooctye retrieval, and these correlated negatively with the total number of oocytes retrieved (r = -0.343), the number of useable oocytes retrieved (r = -0.528), and the numbers of viable cleavage-stage embryos produced (r = -0.485).

One possible mechanism for this effect of DHEA "may be via the action of glucocorticoids," say Li et al.

"There is evidence that elevated levels of DHEA and DHEAS are associated with increased cortisol which can directly inhibit steroidogenesis," they conclude.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Sarah Guy