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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Mar;87(3):1156-61.

Stimulation and growth of antral ovarian follicles by selective LH activity administration in women.

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  • 1Reproductive Endocrinology Center, University of Bologna, Bologna 40138, Italy. filicori@med.unibo.it


Intensive FSH stimulation is a key tool of assisted reproduction technology but can cause severe complications through the development of an excessive number of small ovarian follicles. We tested the hypothesis that, in the late stages of ovulation induction, LH activity in the form of low-dose human CG (hCG) can stimulate and selectively modulate ovarian follicle function and growth, independently of FSH administration. Four groups of GnRH agonist-suppressed normoovulatory women (10 each group) received recombinant human FSH (r-hFSH) (150 IU/d) for 7 d followed by: group A, r-hFSH 150 IU/d alone; group B, r-hFSH 50 IU/d and hCG 50 IU/d; group C, r-hFSH 25 IU/d and hCG 100 IU/d; group D, hCG 200 IU/d alone. Despite several days of lowered or absent r-hFSH administration, 70% of hCG-treated patients successfully completed treatment. In these subjects, preovulatory E2 levels and large (>14 mm diameter) ovarian follicle development were not reduced; conversely, the number of small (<10 mm diameter) ovarian follicles was significantly decreased in groups B-D vs. group A. Low-dose hCG administration did not cause follicle luteinization. We conclude that, following FSH priming, LH activity administration can: 1) stimulate folliculogenesis for several days, in spite of rapidly declining FSH levels; and 2) hasten small follicle demise. Therefore, LH activity administration could be used to design radically novel ovulation induction regimens that, by partly or completely replacing mid-/late follicular phase FSH administration, may reduce costs and improve safety of assisted reproduction technology.

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