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DATA

Experimental Study on Contributing Factors of Oocyte Development

Rita Sneeringer, M.D., Alan S. Penzias, M.D., Brent Barrett, Ph.D., and Anny Usheva, Ph.D

August 11, 2017
Emma Holt

High Levels of Mineralocorticoids in Preovulatory Follicular Fluid

As always, let’s define the terms loaded above before I scare you off. Mineralocorticoids are a group of hormones that regulate the balance of water and electrolytes in the body. Preovulatory follicular fluid means just as it sounds- the follicular fluid in a woman before ovulation. The follicle within the human ovary is designed specifically to store, nurture, and release an oocyte that has the ability to fertilize and result in a live birth.

Although some molecular pathways are clearly described and defined, the authors realize that others remain unclear and need deciphered. To the authors knowledge, the presence of ovarian mineralocorticoids has not been previously evaluated in humans and therefore they propose that aldosterone may contribute to improving the environment for normal oocyte development.

Moving forward, you’ll learn:

  • Who the subjects of the study are
  • What oocyte retrieval is and how it helped women undergoing IVF 
  • Further research the authors recommend after uncovering this new data 

Additional Information- Materials & Methods 

The subjects, objectives and institutional review board approval 

The patients used in this experimental study were women undergoing oocyte retrieval for IVF and were all treated at Boston IVF.  Patients were categorized as reproductively young if under 35 years of age and reproductively old at age 40 and older. It’s also important to note that the study was approved by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Institution Review Board (IRB).

Let’s back it up a bit - oocyte retrieval is the process of collecting mature eggs directly from a woman’s ovaries, before their release from ovarian follicles. The idea of this study was to identify aldosterone (hormone made by adrenal glands) and precursors in ovarian follicles and to relate levels of mineralocorticoids to previously described renin-angiotensin system follicular fluid content. The renin-angiotensin is the psychological system that regulates blood pressure. 

‍Results & Conclusion

Acknowledgement of this study as the first to report the presence of mineralocorticoids 

The results include high concentrations of preovulatory aldosterone that were measured in follicular fluid. Increased mineralocorticoid levels are also found in follicular fluid compared and it was concluded that plasma aldosterone levels increase before ovulation. The levels of aldosterone found combined with the presence of aldosterone receptors on oocytes suggests a possible role for aldosterone in oocyte development. 

‍The authors additionally report preliminary evidence of local aldosterone synthesis and aldosterone receptors on the oocyte. These observations are new and original findings in ovarian biology. Being the first report of the presence of mineralocorticoids in the human ovarian follicle, there was a lot to be learned and the researchers certainly gathered significant data. However, further study on the site of aldosterone production and its role within the ovary is still needed, according to the authors.

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