Background: Management of women with reduced ovarian reserve or poor ovarian response (POR) to stimulation is one of the major challenges in reproductive medicine. The primary causes of POR remain elusive and oxidative stress was proposed as one of the important contributors. It has been suggested that focus on the specific subpopulations within heterogeneous group of poor responders could assist in evaluating optimal management strategies for these patients. This study investigated the effect of anti-oxidant treatment with coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) on ovarian response and embryo quality in young low-prognosis patients with POR.
Methods: This prospective, randomized controlled study included 186 consecutive patients with POR stratified according to the POSEIDON classification group 3 (age < 35, poor ovarian reserve parameters). The participants were randomized to the CoQ10 pre-treatment for 60 days preceding IVF-ICSI cycle or no pre-treatment. The number of high quality embryos was a primary outcome measure.
Results: A total of 169 participants were evaluated (76 treated with CoQ10 and 93 controls); 17 women were excluded due to low compliance with CoQ10 administration. The baseline demographic and clinical characteristics were comparable between the groups. CoQ10 pretreatment resulted in significantly lower gonadotrophin requirements and higher peak E2 levels. Women in CoQ10 group had increased number of retrieved oocytes (4, IQR 2-5), higher fertilization rate (67.49%) and more high-quality embryos (1, IQR 0-2); p < 0.05. Significantly less women treated with CoQ10 had cancelled embryo transfer because of poor embryo development than controls (8.33% vs. 22.89%, p = 0.04) and more women from treatment group had available cryopreserved embryos (18.42% vs. 4.3%, p = 0.012). The clinical pregnancy and live birth rates per embryo transfer and per one complete stimulation cycle tended to be higher in CoQ10 group but did not achieve statistical significance.
Conclusion: Pretreatment with CoQ10 improves ovarian response to stimulation and embryological parameters in young women with poor ovarian reserve in IVF-ICSI cycles. Further work is required to determine whether there is an effect on clinical treatment endpoints.
Keywords: Clinical outcomes; Coenzyme Q10; High-quality embryos; In vitro fertilization; Oxidative stress; POSEIDON stratification; Poor ovarian response.