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Christina Bergh, Ulrika Selleskog and Torbjörn Hillensjö


Objective: Recently pure gonadotropins have become available through recombinant technology. In parallel with ongoing clinical trials it is important to examine the effects of these new gonadotropin preparations in experimental studies in human granulosa cells. In the present study the effects of recombinant FSH (rFSH) and LH (rLH) on steroid and inhibin production were examined in human granulosa cells in culture.

Patients and methods: Granulosa cells were obtained during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle in seven women undergoing gynecological laparotomy and from follicles in stimulated cycles in women undergoing oocyte retrieval in connection with in vitro fertilization/embryo transfer. The granulosa cells were cultured in modified Medium 199 containing 1% fetal bovine serum for 4–8 days with and without hormones. Media were changed on alternate days and stored at −20°C until analyzed for estradiol, progesterone and inhibin.

Results: Granulosa cells from natural cycles were highly responsive to rFSH which caused a dose-related (rFSH 0·1 to 100 ng/ml) increase in estradiol and progesterone accumulation. The maximal stimulatory effect was reached with a concentration of rFSH between 1 and 10 ng/ml. Granulosa cells from stimulated cycles responded highly to rLH in terms of increased progesterone production during the whole culture period. A maximal stimulatory effect was observed with rLH at a concentration of 0·1 ng/ml. Both types of granulosa cells responded to recombinant gonadotropins in terms of increased inhibin production.

Conclusions: The present study demonstrates that granulosa cells from human ovarian follicles are highly responsive to recombinant gonadotropins as demonstrated by increased steroid and inhibin production.

European Journal of Endocrinology 136 617–623

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Christina Bergh, Kjell Carlström, Ulrika Selleskog and Torbjörn Hillensjö

Bergh C, Carlström K, Selleskog U, Hillensjö T. Effect of growth hormone on follicular fluid androgen levels in patients treated with gonadotropins before in vitro fertilization. Eur J Endocrinol 1996;134:190–6. ISSN 0804–4643

Forty normally ovulating women aged 25–38 years from one private and two university in vitro fertilization (IVF) centres were used in this randomized, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study to explore the effect of recombinant human growth hormone (GH) on follicular fluid (FF) levels of steroid hormones, particularly androgens. All the women had tubal factor infertility and were classified as poor responders with at least two previously performed and failed IVF treatments in which less than five oocytes had been retrieved following ovarian hyperstimulation. Growth hormone (GH 0.1 IU/kg body wt per day) or placebo was given as pretreatment during down-regulation with gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist and during stimulation with human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) according to the randomized protocol. Follicular fluid concentrations of steroids were measured and changes related to the levels of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and IGF binding proteins 1 and 3 and to the mode of GH administration. Pretreatment with GH, i.e. administration of GH before hMG stimulation only, caused significantly elevated follicular fluid concentrations of estrone, testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and higher values for markers of aromatase activity (ratios between estrone and androstenedione and between estradiol-17β and androstenedione) than in the placebo group, as well as in the two groups receiving GH during hMG stimulation. The highest values for markers of steroid sulfatase activity (ratios between DHA and DHEA sulfate and between unconjugated and conjugated estrone) were found in the patients pretreated with GH. Positive correlations were found between follicular fluid IGF-I and IGF binding protein 3 on the one hand and androgens on the other. This study showed that the administration of adjuvant GH to women who were poor responders to gonadotropins alters the endocrine/paracrine ovarian response to gonadotropins.

Torbjörn Hillensjö, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Huddinge University Hospital, S-141 86 Huddinge, Sweden