Biological Markers of Fertility
Abstract: Infertility affects 15 % of couples, which corresponds to 60 - 80 million worldwide. The microenvironments in which the oocyte, embryo and fetus mature are vital to the establishment and development of a healthy pregnancy. Different biological systems, such as angiogenesis, the immune system and apoptosis need to be adequately regulated for pregnancy to occur and progress normally. The overall aim of this thesis was to investigate the impact of Histidine-rich glycoprotein (HRG) and Src homology 2 domain-containing adapter protein B (SHB) on human female fertility.HRG is a plasma protein that regulates angiogenesis, the immune system, coagulation/fibrinolysis and apoptosis, by building complexes with various ligands. The impact of HRG on fertility is studied here for the first time. HRG is present in follicular fluid, the Fallopian tube, endometrium, myometrium and placenta. HRG distribution within embryo nuclei depends on developmental stage. Blastocysts express and secrete HRG. The HRG C633T single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) appears to affect the chance of pregnancy and, correspondingly, parameters associated with pregnancy in IVF. Additionally, this HRG genotype may increase the risk in IVF of only developing embryos unfit for transfer.SHB is an adaptor protein involved in intracellular signaling complexes that regulate angiogenesis, the immune system and cell proliferation/apoptosis. Shb knockout mice have altered oocyte/follicle maturation and impaired embryogenesis. The impact of three SHB polymorphisms (rs2025439, rs13298451 and rs7873102) on human fertility is studied for the first time. The SNP prevalences did not differ between infertile and fertile women. BMI, gonadotropin dosages, the percentage of immature oocytes, the number of fertilized oocytes, the percentage of good-quality embryos and the day of embryo transfer seems to be affected by SHB genotype.In conclusion, HRG and SHB appear to influence female fertility. They are potential biomarkers that might be used for predicting pregnancy chance in infertile women. Knowledge of these genotypes may improve patient counseling and individualization of treatment.
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