Electroacupuncture Enhances Number of Mature Oocytes and Fertility Rates for In Vitro Fertilization

Med Acupunct. 2019 Oct 1;31(5):289-297. doi: 10.1089/acu.2019.1368. Epub 2019 Oct 17.


Objective: The increasing prevalence of infertility every year is in line with the increasing need for in vitro fertilization (IVF) programs. Failure of oocyte maturation is an obstacle that often causes low success in IVF. According to several studies, controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) has been reported to increase the risk of granulosa-cell apoptosis associated with inhibition of oocyte maturation. This study was conducted to determine the effect of electroacupuncture (EA) on oocyte maturation; rate of fertilization; granulosa-cell apoptosis; and levels of growth-differentiation factor 9 (GDF9) and bone-morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15) an IVF program. Materials and Methods: A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 24 subjects who were in the IVF program. Subjects were randomly allocated into verum-EA (n = 12) and sham-EA groups (n = 12). Microscopic assessment of oocyte maturation and rate of fertilization was performed by embryologists, and examinations of granulosa-cell apoptosis index (Bax/Bcl-2 ratio), GDF9, and BMP15 were performed, using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction and messenger-RNA techniques. Results: There were significant differences in oocyte maturation (P = 0.02) and fertilization rates (P = 0.03) between the verum-EA and sham-EA groups. There were differences in granulosa-cell apoptosis index between the verum-EA and sham-EA groups (P < 0.001). There were significant differences in Bax-protein expression (P = 0.04) and Bcl-2 (P = 0.03) granulosa cells between the verum-EA and sham-EA groups. There was no significant difference in GDF9 levels (P = 0.34) and BMP15 (p = 0.47) between the verum-EA and sham-EA groups. Conclusions: EA can enhance oocyte maturation and fertilization rate, and reduce the granulosa-cell apoptosis index in an IVF program.

Keywords: BMP15; Bax; Bcl-2; GDF9; granulosa-cell apoptosis; oocyte maturation.