Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics

Mary E. Ingle, Michael S. Bloom*, Patrick J. Parsons, Amy J. Steuerwald, Pamela Kruger, and Victor Y. Fujimoto



Purpose: A hypothesis-generating pilot study exploring associations between essential trace elements measured in follicular fluid (FF) and urine and in vitro fertilization (IVF) endpoints.

Methods: We recruited 58 women undergoing IVF between 2007 and 2008, and measured cobalt, chromium, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc in FF (n = 46) and urine (n = 45) by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). We used multivariable regression models to assess the impact of FF and urine trace elements on IVF outcomes, adjusted for age, body mass index, race, and cigarette smoking.

Results: Trace elements were mostly present at lower concentrations in FF than in urine. The average number of oocytes retrieved was positively associated with higher urine cobalt, chromium, copper, and molybdenum concentrations. FF chromium and manganese were negatively associated with the proportion of mature oocytes, yet urine manganese had a positive association. FF zinc was inversely associated with average oocyte fertilization. Urine trace elements were significant positive predictors for the total number of embryos generated. FF copper predicted lower embryo fragmentation while urine copper was associated with higher embryo cell number and urine manganese with higher embryo fragmentation. No associations were detected for implantation, pregnancy, or live birth.

Conclusions: Our results suggest the importance of trace elements in both FF and urine for intermediate, although not necessarily clinical, IVF endpoints. The results differed using FF or urine biomarkers of exposure, which may have implications for the design of clinical and epidemiologic investigations. These initial findings will form the basis of a more definitive future study.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates, Affiliates, and Staff