A proteomic analysis of human follicular fluid: comparison between fertilized oocytes and non-fertilized oocytes in the same patient

J Assist Reprod Genet. 2013 Sep;30(9):1231-8. doi: 10.1007/s10815-013-0004-3. Epub 2013 Jul 26.


Purpose: Human follicular fluid constitutes the microenvironment of follicles and includes various biological active proteins that can affect follicle growth and oocyte fertilization. Conducting proteomic evaluations of human follicular fluid may be helpful for identifying potential biomarkers possibly possessing a predictive value for oocyte quality and the success of in vitro fertilization.

Method: We performed proteomic profiling of human follicular fluids containing oocytes that were fertilized and resulted in pregnancy and follicular fluids containing oocytes that were not fertilized in the same patients undergoing intracytoplasmic sperm injection using the LTQ Orbitrap coupled with liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) analyses.

Results: We identified a total of 503 proteins in human follicular fluids containing fertilized and non-fertilized oocytes obtained from 12 patients. We also found that 53 proteins exhibited significantly different spectral counts between the two groups, including heparan sulfate proteoglycan perlecan, which showed significant upregulation in the follicular fluids containing fertilized oocytes in comparison with that observed in the follicular fluids containing non-fertilized oocytes.

Conclusion: Our results suggest a possibility that proteins identified by LC/MS/MS in follicular fluid might not only be involved in folliculogenesis, but also function as biomarkers possessing predictive potential for oocyte maturation and the success of IVF when their expression levels are significantly different between fertilized and non-fertilized oocytes, although no distinctive biomarkers were identified in the current study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fertilization / genetics*
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Follicular Fluid / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Oocytes / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Follicle / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Proteome*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Proteome