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Perfluoroalkyl acid contamination of follicular fluid and its consequence for in vitro oocyte developmental competence

The Science of The Total Environment
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.07.028
  • Embryo Quality
  • Endocrine Disruptor
  • Female Subfertility
  • Follicular Fluid
  • Pfaas
  • Serum


Abstract Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) have been shown to induce negative effects in laboratory animals and in vitro experiments. Also, PFAAs have been detected in human tissues and body fluids. The ovarian follicle constitutes a fragile micro-environment where interactions between hormones, growth factors, the oocyte and surrounding somatic cells are essential to generate a fully competent oocyte. In vitro experiments suggest that PFAAs can influence this balance, but very scarce in vivo data are available to confirm this assumption. In fact, the potential PFAA-presence in the follicular micro-environment is currently unknown. Therefore, we investigated if PFAAs are present in human follicular fluid and if their presence could be a risk factor for in vivo exposed developing oocytes. Furthermore, we compared the PFAA-distribution within serum and follicular fluid. PFAAs were analyzed by LC/MS in follicular fluid (n=38) and serum (n=20) samples from women undergoing assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). Statistical models were used to investigate PFAA-distribution in both body fluids, to compare this behavior with the distribution of lipophilic organic pollutants and to explore the relationship between patient characteristics, ART-results and follicular fluid contamination. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was the PFAA found in the highest concentration in follicular fluid [7.5 (0.1–30.4) ng/mL] and serum [7.6 (2.8–12.5) ng/mL]. A new variable, Principal Component 1, representing the overall PFAA-contamination of the follicular fluid samples, was associated with a higher fertilization rate (p<0.05) and a higher proportion of top embryos relative to the amount of retrieved oocytes (p<0.05), after adjusting for age, estradiol-concentration, BMI, male subfertility and the presence of other organic pollutants as explanatory variables. To conclude, overall higher PFAA-contamination in the follicular micro-environment was associated with a higher chance of an oocyte to develop into a high quality embryo. Also, PFAAs have different distribution patterns between serum and follicular fluid compared to the lipophilic organic pollutants. Further research is of course crucial to confirm these new observations.

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