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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1993 Jun;76(6):1470-6.

Enhanced ovarian steroid secretion before implantation in early human pregnancy.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of California, Davis 95616.


Previous studies have compared ovarian steroid production in the luteal phase of nonconceptive and conceptive cycles. Some investigators reported higher preimplantational levels of progesterone in conceptive cycles vs. nonconceptive cycles, but other studies have found no differences. Many of these results were difficult to interpret because the studies included infertile women and/or women who received exogenous hormones. In this study we have characterized the profiles of gonadotropin secretion and ovarian steroid response during early pregnancy in a population of spontaneously ovulating women and compared them to those in nonconceptive cycles of recently fertile women. Blood samples were collected daily during the luteal phase from 24 women during 51 cycles of artificial insemination with donor semen. Cycles were segregated to those from women who had a successful term pregnancy (normal group) and those having an early spontaneous abortion (SAB group) and were also classified as nonconceptive or conceptive based on measurements of hCG. Serum LH and FSH did not show marked differences between nonconceptive and conceptive cycles in the periimplantation period in either the normal or SAB group. In the normal group, estradiol concentrations were significantly higher in conceptive cycles than in nonconceptive cycles beginning 6 days after the LH peak and continuing through the end of the cycle, while differences in progesterone concentrations bordered on or exceeded significance during the same time period. In the SAB group, preimplantation differences in pituitary gonadotropin and ovarian steroid secretion were not observed, whereas the postimplantation hCG concentrations in the SAB group were significantly lower than those in the normal group. It is reasoned that embryos with defective post-implantation hCG secretion may have had this defect before detection of hCG in serum, thus accounting for the lack of stimulation of steroid secretion in these pregnancies. These findings suggest that the enhanced ovarian steroid secretion in conceptive cycles may be due to a gonadotropic stimulus from the preimplantation embryo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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