Follicular steroid hormones as markers of oocyte quality and oocyte development potential

J Hum Reprod Sci. 2014 Jul;7(3):187-93. doi: 10.4103/0974-1208.142479.


Context: Various components of follicular fluid are suggested as biochemical predictors of oocyte quality. Previous studies of follicular steroid hormone levels have shown disparate results when related with fertilization outcomes.

Aim: The objective of the study was to relate the levels of steroid hormones of each individual follicle with oocyte maturation, fertilization results, embryo quality, and pregnancy rates.

Settings and design: Prospective cohort study in a university hospital.

Methods: In 31 patients, who underwent intracytoplasmic sperm injection, it was performed an ultrasound guided aspiration of follicular fluid of the first two mature follicles from each ovary. Follicular levels of estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate were measured by chemiluminescent immunoassay.

Statistical analysis: Generalized estimating equation model.

Results: In follicular fluids with mature oocyte presence, in normal as well as in failed fertilization, there was a positive correlation between follicular testosterone and progesterone (r = 0.794, P = 0.0001 and r = 0.829, P = 0.0001). Progesterone levels were higher in cases of normal fertilization compared to failed fertilization (P = 0.003). B quality embryos came from oocytes immersed in follicular fluids with higher estradiol values and higher estradiol/progesterone and estradiol/testosterone ratios than those of C quality (P = 0.01; P = 0.0009; P = 0.001). Estradiol levels were higher in patients who achieved pregnancy (P = 0.02).

Conclusion: The analysis of follicular hormone composition could be considered as an additional tool in oocyte selection.

Keywords: Fertilisation; follicular fluid; oocyte maturation; pregnancy; steroid.