Ovarian stimulation under the effect of isotretinoin

Gynecol Endocrinol. 2018 Feb;34(2):107-109. doi: 10.1080/09513590.2017.1380185. Epub 2017 Sep 23.


Isotretinoin (13-cis-retinoic acid) is a pharmaceutical vitamin A analog that is frequently used in the treatment of severe cystic acne, many women at reproductive age being exposed to this substance. This drug has a clearly documented teratogenicity and data from rodents and humans indicate that a direct aggression to ovarian follicles also occurs. Here we report the case of a 29-year-old woman with breast cancer referred for emergency preservation of reproductive potential that used isotretinoin up to the day before the initiation of ovarian stimulation. Ultrasound scan showed an antral follicle count of 17 and 13 follicles on the right and the left ovary, respectively, and her antimüllerian hormone levels were 4.03 ng/ml. Standard ovarian stimulation for oocyte vitrification in oncological patients was initiated during the luteal phase and final estradiol levels were 49 pg/ml. Three mature oocytes were obtained. Other four oocytes were retrieved in the germinal vesicle and metaphase I developmental stage, all of which matured in vitro in the following 30 h and were also vitrified. Response to ovarian stimulation, both in terms of the number of mature oocytes obtained and serum sex steroids production were in the lower range of what is observed in patients with a similar clinical profile. These findings suggest that isotretinoin impairs follicular-oocyte maturation.

Keywords: Isotretinoin; follicle; gonadotropin; oocyte quality; ovarian stimulation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / complications
  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy
  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / complications
  • Dermatologic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Drug Resistance
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Female
  • Fertility Agents, Female / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Fertility Agents, Female / pharmacology
  • Fertility Preservation / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Oocyte Maturation Techniques
  • Isotretinoin / adverse effects*
  • Luteal Phase / drug effects
  • Oocyte Retrieval
  • Oogenesis / drug effects*
  • Ovarian Reserve / drug effects
  • Ovary / diagnostic imaging
  • Ovary / drug effects*
  • Ovulation Induction*
  • Ultrasonography


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Fertility Agents, Female
  • Isotretinoin